Posted on March 10, 2018

Candidates to become official referees at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ have each successfully completed a two-hour screening session at Aspetar, which took place recently. In all, 48 referees took part, including 35 referees and 13 Video Assistant Referees (VAR). The referees travelled to Doha to take part in a series of FIFA workshops hosted by the Qatar Football Association (QFA).

Aspetar provided each of the referees with a comprehensive screening. The medical assessments comprised various elements and were specifically tailored to meet the needs of each referee. The screening assessed the referees’ cardiovascular, respiratory, muscle and tendon conditions, along with bone density, body compositions such as the Body Mass Index (BMI) and percentage of body fat. Tests included echography, blood tests, Achilles tendon, DEXA scans, and a general health analysis to check for any underlying physical problems and diseases. Such processes help foresee and prevent any possible injuries that may result during a game.

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Speaking about the importance of the referees’ medical assessments, Head of FIFA Refereeing Massimo Busacca, said: “We’re very happy we did medical checks [for] the referees ahead of a very important competition [the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™]. It’s important to know how [physically fit] the referees are and [assess] the shape they’re in. We did the same for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ and had excellent results. Today we have to work on prevention, and know exactly how the referees feel [physically] and how they’re preparing [for the tournament] and [that’s] very important for us [FIFA]. Aspetar is a very good [hospital] with incredible specialists. The referees are really happy about their tests. For that, we’re very thankful for the relationship between FIFA and Aspetar.”

Sandro Ricci, a Brazilian professional football referee who took part in the screening sessions commented: “We’re really happy to be here in Qatar, for the first time. Our experience in Aspetar has been great and we have all the screening facilities we need here. This is a great opportunity for us, as it will help prepare us for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. We have previously done screening assessments ahead of competitions, but this is the first time that we have done specific evaluations.” Ricci also said he’s enjoyed his stay in Doha and said he’d be happy to come back for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar™, as a fan if not as a referee.

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Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov, also remarked: “As a referee, it’s essential to be aware of the condition I’m in. We need to know where we are and what we need to do next. That’s why it’s important for us to know our capacity and how well we can handle demanding physical exercises.” In 2009, Aspetar became the first hospital in the Middle East to be accredited by FIFA as a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence. Currently, there are only 41 FIFA-accredited medical centres worldwide. Aspetar previously provided medical support to the Ivory Coast and Algeria national football teams that took part at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, and has recently screened the Tunisian national football team that will compete at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.