By Vera Martirosyan
Massimo Busacca, who used to be one of the best five referees in the world and is famous for working at the finals of Champions League and UEFA Cup, is heading FIFA's refereeing. He deals with improvement of the sphere, helps in improving quality of refereeing. In addition, Buzacca is very fond of traveling. He has recently spent a week in Armenia where he managed to hold an unplanned master class for Armenian referees. Talking to the Armenian News – NEWS.am correspondent Vera Martirosyan, the famous referee spoke about his career, his work in FIFA and a trip to Armenia.
You are the head of FIFA Refereeing department. What are your responsibilities?
As a director of the FIFA Refereeing department making many courses around the world. I had a spontaneous master class in Armenia. For me this was a pleasure to do, because this is experience. I always like to talk about my job. I have so many things to do about modern referee. I had a three-hour speech today. There are still so much things to do to improve referee skills.
In particular what? Will launching Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system help?
For the most important is not a video assistant system, it is just an implementation. We cannot change what has been for many years. A referee has to develop and to grow up in the pitch by taking important decision in less than a second. Referee is the first to make a decision. This can be a great risk, if a referee thinks he does not have to decide any more. I always tell the referees: you are to take a decision, technology can help only sometimes. One situation in four or five games.
What can you say about experience of using this system?
First, it was used during U-20 World Cup in South Korea. In Korea we had 12 decisions changed, seven of them were crucial. During the Confederation Cup, there were five or six. There were mainly right decisions, but in some situations, we saw mistakes, and this is something that has to be improved. We are very positive. Germany is now using VAR, Italy, too. You used to write by a pen, now you have a voice recorder. It is the same with VAR.
Don’t you think that the new system is killing emotions in football? The player scores a goal and looks at a referee to see whether he signals a goal.
I agree with you. I personally said no. Mistake is a part of our life. Top players commit mistakes. They do not score, and miss a clear goal, a penalty, at the same time training all the time and earning millions. But, we accept this. At the same time, we do not accept it in case of a referee. What is the difference between a referee and a player? If a player makes a mistake, then he scores a beautiful goal and everyone forgives him. Sometimes a referee has an ideal match and makes a mistake in the 89th minute. His career may end. It is not a referee or FIFA that ask for technology. The world asks for technology, media does. The clubs are playing 100 or 200 million to a player. They can lose 70-80 million because of a mistake. The whole world saw that the ball was out, and the referee did not notice this. It is 2017, but you cannot have a machine to see whether he was out or not. This is an answer. Today’s football is a big business. Twenty years ago, football was different, today it is business.
May be one day they will not need human referee?
No, never. I can sign now. Machine can never be a substitution of a human being, because a machine is made by a man.
We are working daily with professionalization of the referees. We want quality from referees, but we do not invest. Of course, you need talent to be a good referee. You do not need to think much what you are doing. It happens naturally.
What kind of educations should a referee have?
He must play football. A top referee must have played football.
What talent is important for a referee?
You need power, responsibility, communication, intelligence, courage – all these aspects are important to make a decision in less than a second. Even doctors have more time to make a decision. You must know all characteristics of a team, of a player you are working with.
What happens with the referees who make big mistakes?
It is a real problem to come back, and one needs time. That’s why VAR can help our career.
What are the chances of Armenians to become top FIFA referees?
Our philosophy is that a country is not important. If you put your target to be top, you will be. It is not like waking up one morning and you are top. You have Armenian playing for Manchester United, don’t you?
You have to work hard. I am from a small country, too. I was going to my target. And, I am also sure your referees are intelligent.
During the last years, we had referees from Iran who were doing finals. In women’s tournaments, there were referees from Ukraine and Canada. One referee from Saudi Arabia did U21 World Cup final. If you are strong, you will achieve success. We have to be honest with ourselves. If a referee deserve this, if he is good, he would succeed. During the last world cup, there were no referees from big countries.
What was the point of today’s meeting with Armenian referees?
We were speaking about modern referees. You have to sacrifice, to have power and be able to sell your product – your decision. This was the main discussion. If you do not sacrifice, you can be a big talent, but will not achieve success.
What was the most difficult match in your career?
I never made big mistakes in important games that I had. I did mistakes, but I can remember only positive things like Champions League final in Rome [Barcelona vs. Manchester United –ed.]. This was the best.
Which was your last match?
It was World Cup qualifier between Germany and Austria. Then I retired and got an interesting proposal from FIFA.
You spent more than a week in Armenia. What sites did you manage to visit here?
We really love travelling, my wife and I. We like to visit interesting countries. We believe in God. One of the reasons to choose Armenia was that Armenia is an old Christian country. We liked Tatev Monastery. We also spent a night in Jermuk, it was also special.
What did you like most?
First of all food. We liked lavash very much. We visited different restaurants and food is really very good. First for me was the food. The people are very friendly and helpful. There are nice people in the country, I was really impressed. The views of Armenia: mountains, churches, I liked it very much.
And now my favorite question. Who is the best player in history?
This is not my style to speak about it. For me top players are those who do not create problems. The tops are top in everything.