To be a soccer referee: Ravi explains it all

He plays the full 90 minutes without subs, isn’t on anybody’s team, and is everyone’s enemy. His goal is not to score goals or win the game, but to facilitate a fair and honest game. This is the soccer life of W. Ravisanthiran, normally called Ravi.

Ravi began his career as a ref in June of 1998. He had been a soccer player before, but an injury forced his playing years to an end, and he decided to continue to pursue his passions by refereeing. Since then, Ravi has refereed games in all levels, including local friendlies to COE, a developmental league and S-league matches, the highest level in Singapore. Mr. Ravi has even officiated games overseas in Malaysia and Brunei.

Ravi referees the S-League- the top league in Singapore. Creative Commons license

The referee’s game is different from that of a player, it is a game with different objectives. While it may look to some like it is a simple job, it takes much more than a whistle and red and yellow cards to be a referee. Referees must officiate a game with no bias and remain as fair as possible. “As a referee, you have to be like a judge. The most important thing is to be fair to the teams and fair to yourself. It is something that comes easier with experience,” Ravi said.

Contrary to what most people may think, stamina plays a big part in the game of a referee. “You must be in top form, in top fitness, so it doesn’t affect your game. You also have to be very focused to see any fouls.”

Years of experience have helped Ravi deal with heated situations and arguments. “Players get frustrated very easily, and they might get angry with you. But you can never satisfy both sides, and when someone gets mad at your call, you have to be nice to them to cool them down and have a fair game.” Upon the subject of simulation, Ravi commented “some players try to test the ref, trying to get away with a foul, or win a cheap free kick. You have to be focused to make the right call. You also have to be calm, and deal with players arguing with you.”

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Heated arguments are frequent in soccer games. Creative Commons license

Though he has years of experience, even Ravi can’t always have a perfect game. “You have your ups and your downs, and when you make a wrong call, you have to get over it, and focus on the game so you don’t make another one. It is about reducing your mistakes.”

Ravi sees every game as a “learning game. Every game is different, and there’s something you can learn from each game.” While he has refereed in the highest levels of Singapore, Ravi doesn’t see his career stagnating there. “You aim high in whatever you do. In refereeing, you look to be the top, which is to be a referee for FIFA. You work hard, and it is all about your dedication to your goal.”

While he was more or less forced into a different career path, refereeing is no less a passion to Ravi than playing soccer is, which is why he has continued for so long.

Ravi charges $70 per game he officiates and has to take part in a day job as well as being a referee. This goes to show how much dedication and passion referees like Ravi have for soccer. Without men like Ravi, there would be no game.

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