Refs have lives

2014-06-22 15:00

From a distance, you’d think they don’t have lives.

How else could they stand the constant abuse and insults from players, coaches, officials and supporters?

Match officials are always at the receiving end for their decisions – depending on which side of the touchline one is.

They might command the respect they deserve because of their decisions, but most would be surprised to know that the majority of the match officials do not depend solely on refereeing for a living.

Many of the referees at the World Cup have put their lives on hold to be in Brazil – simply for the love of the game.

While players will go back to their respective clubs after the tournament for preseason training, officials will revert to their professions and businesses to continue with their lives outside football.

From a police officer to a pharmacist and a self-made millionaire, the World Cup match officials are men of status off the field of play.

A quick glance at the men in the middle of the pitches in Brazil shows that they do not rely on Fifa money to make a living.

Take Jonas Eriksson of Sweden, for example, is regarded as a “laid-back millionaire” who made a fortune after selling his shares in Swedish media-rights business IEC in Sports. The 40-year-old referee spends his time away from the game as a salesman.

The 41-year-old Björn Kuipers of the Netherlands owns three grocery stores and a hair salon.

Mark Geiger of the United States, a former school teacher, was among 103 recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching in 2009.

Even most of the match officials in our domestic league, the Absa Premiership, don’t only depend on their match fees for a living. The recently retired Jerome Damon, Enock Molefe and Daniel Bennett are school teachers by profession while Victor Gomes has a plastic-bottle manufacturing company.

Know your World Cup referees

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