The Referee Report: Kari Seitz Blogs from Greece
Kari Seitz is one of two American soccer officials at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She signs off with her final blog after returning stateside from Athens as a part of a successful contingent of players and officials from U.S. Soccer.
Aug. 25, 2004
THE REFEREE REPORT - AUG. 31, 2004
U.S. Soccer definitely came away winners at the 2004 Olympic Games: US WNT Gold, U.S. Referee Bronze and U.S. Assistant Referee Semifinal.
Well, sadly, the games of the 28th Olympiad are over. I returned home from Greece on Sunday afternoon after getting a few more hours to explore Athens and watching the men's final on Saturday.
There is no one word to summarize the experience of the Olympic games. I can only say that realizing your dreams and watching others realize theirs creates a very strong emotion.
Being selected to officiate the third-place match was a wonderful honor to top off my Olympic experience. It was a world class soccer match; the same match-up of the finals of the Women's World Cup 2003. Both teams came out to compete, allowing me to perform at my best. I nearly forgot to look at my watch to end the match, I was enjoying myself so much while all the time crossing my fingers that things would end smoothly. Luckily for me, it did go well and the players, assessors and FIFA dignitaries were very pleased with the performance of the American referee.
For Chris Strickland and I, our job was to go to Athens and represent our country to the best of our ability. We did not fail you and, along the way, we created wonderful memories to last a lifetime.
I can't thank each of you enough for your words of support throughout the tournament. Your words from home were an inspiration during my 20+ days in Greece.
That is all from Athens. Thank you all.
FIFA Referee- USA
THE REFEREE REPORT - AUG 25, 2004
Well I have some good news…
A representative of the USA will be the referee for the “other final”: the 3rd/4th place match. After a couple hours that seemed like a lifetime I got the news. It is going to be a fantastic match so keep your eyes peeled tomorrow.
Since I last wrote, I have other good news, too. I’ve now been to the Olympics (beyond soccer, that is). I was able, with some connections, to get into Track & Field after all. We saw the 100-meter Men’s final. Gosh, all that training for less than 10 seconds of running! We also got to see handball, the only event not sold out the other night. Okay, for us Americans it seems a little boring, but with some tutoring from the Danish referees (where this is a very popular sport) I got the hang of it, and actually thought it was pretty cool. As part of our education at the match, we learned how to do cheers in Danish, which I'm sure will come in handy when I get home!
I was hoping this assignment would come, but one just never knows. So our first real free afternoon was spent at the hotel relaxing, drinking a lot of water, getting a hair cut so I could see the match and watching videos.
Well, as you can imagine. I need to spend the next few hours getting ready for the game. I totally appreciate your support over the last couple weeks.
Send out the positive vibes tomorrow.
THE REFEREE REPORT - AUG 23, 2004
I didn't get to see the (USA versus Japan) match Friday, as it wasn't televised locally. So instead, we decided to go to the main Olympic stadium to see the Track and Field events. When we arrived to get tickets, however, (our accreditation is only valid for the Football Stadiums) we found out the tickets were priced at 90 Euros (about 110 USD). None of us were willing to pay that much and instead we ... went shopping!
Needless to say, as of yesterday, I still haven't seen any other Olympic event live. Luckily, it appears that there may still be another day, as assignments were given out yesterday for Monday's Semifinals. Again I'll be a tourist in Athens, training at the field every morning from 8 a.m. until noon and hoping another match is in the horizon. Fortunately, Chris Stickland has been assigned as the Assistant Referee for one of the Men's Semis - Italy vs. Argentina.
Training has been going well. The last two on-field technical training sessions focused on “Kicks from the Mark” as well as AR decisions looking into the sun on whether fouls occurred in the Penalty Area or outside the Penalty Area. As for the physical training session we did the “new” beep and Figure 8 referee test. It was about 100 degrees at the start of the “test,” so it was quite a work out.
The last two nights FIFA has organized going away parties for the teams of referees that will be returning home. We had a lovely meal on the seaside Friday night to say good-bye to two teams of male referees. Last night we went to a swank nightclub on the beach to say good bye to three teams of women referees. Many speeches were made. Though sad, it was a supportive and heartfelt event.
Take care. Signing off from Athens,
THE REFEREE REPORT – AUG. 18, 2004
Last time I was on the computer I had hoped to get an assignment at any minute. Well, that did happen, but time was short, and I couldn't write before I headed off for Volos to be the fourth official in the Sweden vs. Nigeria game.
The assignment was comprised of a team of referees and assistants from Brazil and Bolivia. Boy, did I wish I had brought my Spanish-to-English dictionary. Somehow we communicated with my "Spanglish," some head nods, body language and some luck. Gosh knows how many times I may have smiled and said "yes" to something I shouldn't have :)
We arrived in Volos at about 8 p.m. then we were transported to another hotel to have dinner because ours didn't have a restaurant. The next morning I went for a jog along the waterfront. Volos is a seaport on the East Coast of Greece. It’s a quiet, small town, but with a nice waterfront that has a long boulevard and restaurants lining the way.
Following a meeting with our assessor, lunch and our pre-game meeting we headed off to the stadium in Volos. With the police escorts and our speedy driver we arrived in about eight minutes (although 20 had been planned). Again, the stadium was beautiful. With seating for about 22,000, which would later be full as the men's Greece National Team played following our match. The pitch was perfect, with nary a blade of grass out of place. It was pretty impressive for a small town four hours from Athens.
The game was very quiet. No problems and no difficulties for the referee team.
The six-hour trip back to Athens was trying the next morning. It should have been four hours but the van from Athens didn't make it. We had to squeeze into a taxi two hours after we found out the van wasn't coming, that is, if we wanted to get back to Athens today.
Upon our return we had a debriefing covering those matches that they had time to review in the short time period. The focus was mostly on offside (continuing to wait), some situations in the penalty area that required assistant referee assistance (in what they are calling the "black" zone) and decisions on cards.
Following that, assignments for the women's quarterfinals were distributed for those matches to be played on Friday. I was surprised not to see my name as either a referee or a fourth official, so I'll need everyone to cross their fingers for the next round.
That's it for now. All the best from Greece. Take Care.
THE REFEREE REPORT – AUG. 16, 2004
Ok, where did I leave off last time?
I found out I was one of the lucky few referees that would be in Athens the day of opening ceremonies!
We left the hotel at 6 p.m. for the ceremonies. The roads were completely closed off to local traffic so we arrived in just minutes. After going through security we had about a 20-minute walk to the stadium - right through the Olympic complex - where the swimming facility and other venues were located. It was a beautiful site. Well before the stadium was in view, we could hear the cheer of the crowd already seated as the pre-ceremonies entertainment was in progress.
Once inside, we received an Athens 2004 box with a light, bell and an opening ceremonies book explaining what we were about to see since we didn't have the TV commentary you were getting on NBC. We were seated about nine rows up, just behind the Greece and Olympic Flags.
Anyway, there really are no words to describe the pride and joy experienced in this event. It was a wonderful, moving experience that brought most of my colleagues (including myself) to tears. The beauty of the moment will always be with me.
Luckily, the "bosses" in all their wisdom canceled the training for the next morning, and we had our first official rest day on Saturday!
Saturday we rested during the day, followed by a 30-minute session looking at offside situations. It was a "test" using flash animation in which we saw each incident once and had to make decisions.
Following the session and lunch we had the pre-match meeting with the referee team. The team was made up of Dianne Ferreira-James from Guyana, Jackie Saez from Panama, Isabel Tovar from Mexico and myself.
At 3:30 p.m. we left for the match as scheduled, but arrived about 25 minutes late due to the driver giving us a very long "tour" of Athens on the way. The kinks are still being worked out here.
The stadium was beautiful. It was just completed and is only for soccer.
The match went well. The final score was Nigeria 1, Japan 0, and it was a fast, clean game.
Today (Aug. 16) we had training at 8 a.m. Then I'm hoping, after lunch, to get a chance to go to town and see the Acropolis! Crossing my fingers.
Tomorrow or tonight, we'll get our next assignments. I'll let you all know, when I know. Take care.
THE REFEREE REPORT – AUG. 13, 2004
Thanks everyone, for your well wishes. Your support has been great.
Tuesday (Aug. 10) we drove three hours to Patras from Athens. We had a late dinner that was followed by crashing in the hotel room. We had our pre-game meeting the next morning, rested (some did it by the lovely beach in Patras) and then left for the match at 4 p.m.
Boy, was it hot. And the stadium was spectacular.
The game was competitive and close, with Germany up by two at the end of the first half. However, by the end of the second half Germany had scored eight goals. China played hard the whole game making us all run the whole 90 minutes.
The sun went down a good 10 minutes after our game was over, which made it comfortable for the men's match that followed.
There were a lot of congratulations and support from the referee committee members and other staff after the game. My team worked well together, and I was pleased with our performance.
We returned to Athens the next morning at 10 a.m. after a 45-minute recovery training in the pool.
Upon our arrival in Athens I got the next set of news: I'd be the fourth official for a game in Athens on Saturday (Japan v Nigeria). This is great news, because I'd be in town to watch the OPENING CEREMONIES!
So tonight is the big night, with a game tomorrow.
I'll let you know more when I do. Enjoy watching the games everyone.
THE REFEREE REPORT – AUG. 13, 2004
Just wanted to give you the latest on the Olympics 2004. Everything looks well organized an the facilities are very good (in the first three days). And it is HOT!
First step - travel. Arrived on time and no problems. Always a good start. Upon arrival everything was very organized and was accredited and ready to go within 10 minutes. The volunteers so far are excellent.
The first day was a clinic where the emphasis was on teamwork, positioning and dealing with holding, simulation, dangerous play, and encroachment on penalty kicks.
The next day we had practical training on the field and fitness work, followed by the referees' dinner outdoors at the top of a beautiful hotel looking on to the Acropolis. Beautiful.
This morning was the dreaded fitness test. Let's just say it is hot here, and the ARs (assistant referees) didn't get started until about 11:15 a.m. I'm just glad it is over :). Now just waiting on the assignments.
We will be traveling to matches and then returning the following day to Athens for debriefings. So I'll either be flying tomorrow or taking a three-hour bus ride. We are staying way out by the airport, so not sure if we'll get an opportunity to experience the rest of the Olympics. Perhaps on a rest day?