Friday 02 September 2022, 05:00

Ecuadorian and Mexican FAs come together to share refereeing knowledge

  • FEF representatives visited the FMF to discuss refereeing matters

  • FIFA offered technical assistance and logistical support

  • The associations are involved in a two-year partnership

A heartfelt hug, a warm handshake and the shirts of their respective national teams were far from the only things exchanged when the general secretaries of the Mexican Football Association (FMF) and the Ecuadorian Football Association (FEF) came together in August. Indeed, the joy and satisfaction felt by the FMF’s Inigo Riestra and his FEF counterpart, Nicolas Solines, following their two-day working session at the Mexican FA’s headquarters was clear for all to see.

A refereeing delegation from the FEF travelled to the Mexican city of Toluca on 17 and 18 August to meet with their colleagues from the FMF and representatives from the FIFA regional offices in Panama and Paraguay. The productive two-day session was held in the framework of the partnership agreement signed between the FEF and FMF, which benefits from the coordination and technical input of FIFA’s Member Associations Americas Subdivision. The link-up seeks to strengthen the ties between the two institutions by establishing internal processes aimed at improving the operations and efficiency of the FEF’s Refereeing Department, while also introducing improvements to the VAR implementation plan.

“In line with The Vision 2020-2023 to make football truly global, the fact that the FEF and FMF have joined forces in this novel partnership fills us at the Member Associations Americas Subdivision with pride. Over the course of the two years, the associations will have the opportunity to share experiences and knowledge on matters relating to refereeing, which is such a key area within the game. Our visit to the FMF proved to be beneficial. Our colleagues from the Mexican FA offered an overview of their processes in terms of refereeing and how technology has enabled them to achieve greater efficiency,” commented Javier Gonzalez, coordinator at FIFA’s Regional Development Office in Asuncion, in relation to the latest phase of a partnership that was launched in May 2021 and runs until next year. The visit was a useful experience, with representatives from the Ecuadorian FA’s Referees Committee able to present their new processes and receive feedback from their counterparts at the Mexican FA, learn about the best refereeing practice implemented by the FMF both on and off the field and analyse every stage of the implementation of the VAR system in Mexico. The visitors from Ecuador were also offered a first-hand insight into the workings of the Liga MX’s centre for technological innovation, where cutting-edge technology enables staff members to analyse player and referee performance and carry out analysis that enhances decision-making.

Cooperation agreement FEF - FMF - Day Two

“I’m sure we’ll be able to introduce many of these elements within our association and we’ve learned some key points that we hadn’t even considered,” said Rogger Zambrano, president of the FEF’s Referees Committee. “The most important thing is to exchange views on working methods, both in technical and administrative areas. When I say technical, I’m referring to the work we’re doing on the field of play, including our efforts to guide young, aspiring referees on their journey to becoming top-flight or international referees. As for the administrative areas, it’s all about how to make a refereeing appointment, assess a referee on the basis of a range of objectives, including ratings relating to fitness or technique, knowledge of the rules, and, above all, how they perform on the field of play,” said Armando Archundia, president of the Mexican FA’s Referees Committee.

Cooperation agreement FEF - FMF - Day One

Looking to the future

However, the reach of this particular project extends beyond achieving specific results in relation to refereeing. Over the course of recent months, the two institutions have witnessed just how important it is for FIFA member associations to cooperate with a view to promoting the development of the game globally. In this regard, Riestra said: “The most important thing is to ensure that all member associations operate to the same standard. One of FIFA’s goals is to allow its associations to grow. Another key element and one that we perhaps didn’t initially realise is that improving refereeing across the world benefits us all. Although the Mexican FA oversees Mexican referees, there’s no question that in the near future, an Ecuadorian referee will take charge of a fixture involving our national team at an international competition. So, at the end of the day, improving refereeing standards globally benefits all national teams.”

Cooperation agreement FEF - FMF - Day Two

Meanwhile, Solines closed by noting that: “It’s so important to create these links because our overriding goal has to be to align standards across the board with a view to constantly reducing the gulfs on a sporting level. I believe that events like these contribute to that objective because they promote equality through knowledge sharing, which is crucial in this day and age.” The partnership agreement remains in place, with the final phase set to see the Ecuadorian FA present all of the improvements and new processes that have been introduced on the basis of the best practice shared by the Mexican FA and the support offered by FIFA in the context of this agreement, as well as world football’s governing body’s updated refereeing strategy, its Regulations on the Organisation of Refereeing and the improvements made to the VAR system across its main competitions.