Malta Football Association
Aug 9, 2016
Posted in:
Referees News
Photos: Joe Borg
Photos: Joe Borg

  • Photos: Joe Borg


A total of 150 officials involved in the refereeing sector – referees and assistant referees from all categories, referee observers, administrators and technical staff – at the end of last week got together in a prominent hotel in St. Julians for their pre-season 2016/2017 seminar organised by the Malta FA Refereeing Department.


In his introduction, newly-appointed Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi, said that this is a new era for the Refereeing Department: a new refereeing structure is in place involving everyone – including those who came back to the refereeing fraternity after some period of absence – wishing to give a valid contribution in the immediate and distant future.  He made reference to UEFA’s 95% ‘very good’ refereeing audit just completed, and the challenges ahead (including the online portal just introduced, the new refereeing kit for the next three years, the possibility of top officials on a semi-professional scheme) which should motivate all of us to move forward with this year’s seminar chosen theme TOGETHER STRONGER.


The seminar was officially opened by the Parliamentary Secretary for Research, Innovatioin, Youth and Sport, Hon. Chris Agius, who said that it was an honour, privilege and a pleasure for him to address present referees and former ones familiar in his playing days.  He admired and appreciated their authority and task of having to take decisions.  He said that together, the officials would be stronger to overcome all their local and international commitments.  The Hon. David Agius, Opposition Spokesman for Sport, was also in attendance.


The main guests for this annual event were UEFA Referees Committee member David R. Elleray responsible of Maltese refereeing, and UEFA Referee Observer Frank De Bleeckere.


David Elleray’s lectures focused on The New Amendments to the Laws of the Game with special reference those relating to Denying an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity, and the Key Messages from UEFA Referees’ Committee given to the EURO 2016 Final Tournament participating teams.  He explained the philosophy behind the 95 Law changes made by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) throughout all the seventeen Laws – not only technical but also in structure and language – for a more sensible differentiation between individual and team punishment, according to the ‘spirit of the match.’





In his last address, Mr Elleray spoke also on the referees observers’ role and drew the referees’ attention that when they draw attention to a mistake, this should be an opportunity for referees to be honest with themselves and analyse-reflect-adjust and improve; he appealed to referees to stick together on and off the field of play; deal with conflicts internally; and work hard to keep on learning “to give a message about Maltese referees at all levels.”  He wished every success for next season under the new Refereeing Administration.


Frank De Bleeckereaddressed Careless, Reckless and Stopping Promising Attacks by means of dvd clip situations picked up from the Belgian First League, and also by a presentation which focused on the importance of positioning and angles taken while following the action, teamwork, focus and concentration.  Mr De Bleeckere also led a practical session for the Elite Group at the Luxol Stadium to explain the Vanishing Spray System being introduced in our Premier League this upcoming season.


Other topics were addressed by national instructors Charles Agius on Adopting a preventive approach in Man-Management to National Officials, and by Gaetano  De Gabriele on The first steps in today’s modern refereeing to Grassroots Officials.  Group Discussions were led by the Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi (on Effective Teamwork), his Assistant Directors Philip Agius (on Offside) and Andrè Arciola, and Refereeing Officers Adrian Azzopardi, Stephen Mallia and Alex Arena.


A detailed session on Match Fixing was delivered by none other than MFA Integrity Officer Franz Tabone; while a Player Talk and aCoach Talk were conducted by national goalkeeper Andrew Hogg and U-21 national coach Silvio Vella.


Two sessions were also dedicated for the Media:


  • during a Press Conference, MFA General Secretary Bjorn Vassallo said that it is an honour for us to have 17 international officials, with the Association working hard for this since taking Office in 2010; it seems we have a solid base for a bright future (especially with the setting-up of the Referee Academy) but we should be more committed and not just stand on our laurels as it is not easy for 150 officials to control more than 3,000 matches in a season; thanked all those involved in local refereeing and Mr Elleray for sharing his vast experience with us.  MFA Vice-President and Referees’ Committee Chairman Alex Manfrè was also in attendance.  David Elleray said that football requires the same philosophy and understanding of the Laws of the Game, and was glad of having the opportunity





to address local clubs two days before.  Kevin Azzopardi said that a new Refereeing structure is in place based on the UEFA Referee Convention;  95% of UEFA’s  Audit achieved; for the first time an independent Disciplinary Unit, a Fitness Unit, a Gozo Unit and an Audit Unit for internal matters will be operating with immediate effect; two new initiatives next season (vanishing spray in Premier League matches and new kits);  an online portal for match officials and referee observers; he took the opportunity to mention a number of referees’ international appointments just received for the coming weeks and months; finally he thanked the MFA Administartion for their support and faith in him; and


  • a Media Talk took place during which TVM’s Kontrattakk presenter Sandro Micallef and Net TV’s Replay opinionist Konrad Sultana exchanged refereeing views with the audience.


All participants were tested in General Knowledge, Laws of the Game, and English Proficiency, by means of quizzes held on the three different days.


MFA Referees Fitness Coach Ronald Zammit carried out body composition tests on the elite group of referees and assistant referees, and the day after conducted an analysis on the results; he also made reference to the FIFA Fitness Tests held earlier in the week and gave appropriate advice on the officials’ performances. He also conducted a theoretical and practical session on Injury Prevention.


In his concluding remarks, Director of Refereeing Kevin Azzopardi explained the New Refereeing Sector Structure, foremost that it would include 8 technical units and 6 support units (altogether involving 25 personnel) and the Referees’ Committee would be composed of 12 members; and also mentioned administrative and financial matters.  He remarked that it seems that the three seminar days were a very good working experience which promises well for the season ahead and when we would be needed to rise to the occasion! 

Official Sponsors
Commercial Partners