Never be afraid to ask!

What the does referee in a soccer match is obvious to me. What the linesman does – or assistant referee (word inflation) is obvious to me. But the guy with the board who goes out and who stays in. The fourth official. How I pity him. I think there is a number pad on the left and if you touch 2 and 1 in red the number 21 is displayed on the left. 21 out. And if you type 6 on the number pad on the right in green the number flashes on the right hand side. Anyone can do that, I think. Oh yes. He has a stopwatch too and when the game is paused, he presses the button and again the other button when the game begins again.

Reason enough to go to the FIFA and ask what that man’s job description is.

Han: Mr. Blatter what can you tell me about the fourth official?
Blatter: Nichts.
Han: Thank you, mister Blatter for your comments.

Better to ask a Dutch referee. This is what he said:

  • Assisting with administrative functions before, during and after the match;
  • Assessment of players’ equipment;
  • Ensuring substitutions are conducted in an orderly manner (waving with the board, Han);
  • Notifying the referee of the details of the substitution, by means of numbered boards or electronic displays (where supplied)(no, this is waving with the board, Han);
  • Notifying the teams and spectators, by means of numbered boards or electronic displays where supplied, of the amount of time added on at the end of each half, after having been advised of this by the referee (stopwatch, where is the stopwatch? Han) ;
  • Acting as the contact point between the match officiating crew and any non-participants (such as stadium managers, security personnel, broadcast crews, and ball retrievers);
  • Maintaining decorum in the teams’ technical areas and interceding in situations where coaches, bench personnel, or substitutes become agitated (ah, now I understand, decorum!, Han);
  • In practice, the fourth official becomes a key member of the officiating team, who can watch the field and players and advise the Referee on situations that are going on out of his sight. The fourth official keeps an extra set of records, and helps make sure the Referee does not make a serious error such as cautioning the wrong player, or giving two cautions to the same player and forgetting to send off the player (Key member! Han).

Key information. You always wanted to know what that man was doing there, but you were afraid to ask. I understand. But Seppppp Blatter and I go a long way back. So if you want to know something about the wonderful game of football, ask Han.

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