Ali Hamad: FIFA’s Amendments Match the Proposals of Al Ain Club Medical Committee Chairman

Community, Press

We Inherited Certain Problems and Working to Rebuild the Fabric of Referees’ Home Indoors

Ali Hamad: “FIFA” Necessitated to Have 5 Substitutes in One Match During 3 Breaks

Not Contented with the Referees’ Performance for the most recent period

Referees’ Preparations for the Next Season are Different

Referees Players and Organizers are Subject to Pre-Match Medical Tests

Emirati Referees are the Backbone of UAE Football

“The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) adopted the principle of the safety of players and all those involved in the game by approving the recent amendments to the game regulations. FIFA required all the continental and local football federations to evaluate the general and health conditions in conjunction with the breakthrough of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Based on that the majority of the football federations have taken the necessary measures and decided to suspend sports activities and competitions,” according to exclusive statements made by Ali Hamad Al Badwawi, Chairman of the UAE Football Association (UAEFA) during a TV interview hosted by “Al Ain in a Week” Show broadcasted by Al Ain TV Channel on Thursday 14th May 2020.

Al Badwawi added: “Given the lengthy suspension period, the situation definitely requires to take measures to prepare the players to round back into form. Additionally, most of the current proposals are about to resume football competitions on August 2020, and this entails attaching the current competitions to the teams’ schedules in the new season, including regional and international competitions, including the AFC Champions League and Asia’s World Cup qualifiers.”

Al Badwawi also stated that FIFA has already amended Article No. (3) of the Football Law on the number of players. The new amendment stipulates to have 5 substitutes in one play during 3 breaks. The latest decision aims at limiting the overuse of players by teams facing a more condensed schedule.”

On the proposal made by Dr. Talal Al-Khazraji, Chairman of the Al Ain Club Medical Committee, on making the total number of substitutes to be 7 players based on medical considerations and to reduce fatigue levels experienced by the players, Al Badwawi said: “UAE has highly qualified medical professionals and experts and also has a future vision that keeps pace with the development indicators. I believe that Dr. Talal Al Khazraji, who submitted his proposal ahead of the FIFA amendments to its law regarding the number of changes regardless of the number five or seven, proved to be right.”

He pointed out that five changes are logical, and a sixth substitute would be allowed in matches requiring extra time. “I believe that the FIFA amendments are consistent with the opinion stated by the Chairman of Al Ain Club Medical Committee.”

On whether there is a specific mechanism to make the substitutions during the games, he said: ” In an effort to avoid time wasting that could result from the extra substitutions, teams would be required to make all five of their changes during three breaks in play. The extra substitutes would take place between the two halves of the match or the extra time.”  

Al Badwawi commented on a question on advantages realized during the past period to handle all criticism and comments on the decline of the referees’ performance, specifically on how to deal with the VAR technology by saying: “Actually, since I assumed my responsibilities as the Chairman of the Referees Committee, I stated several times that I am not satisfied with the referees’ performance during the last period. In response, we held several workshops to keep pace with all development indicators, especially the “VAR” technology. Indeed, referees were not lucky enough with the decisions they took in certain games.”

He pointed out that UAEFA invited Italy’s Pierluigi Collina, Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee to deliver several lectures, along with the British David Alir David Alire Garcia/ Director of the Legislative Council and the Technical Director at FIFA, who organized nearly ten lectures for the Emirati referees who was selected for being a supervisor of VAR Project at FIFA.

“We also sought the help of a mental health specialist to help referees before, during, and after the matches. We do hope these efforts will work, and we could realize tangible results in the coming days,” he said.

Ali Hamad shed light on the committee’s efforts to further improve the referees’ performance during the suspension period of all sports activities due to the breakthrough of the novel COVID-19 saying that “The Committee organized online lectures and workshops as per a well-established weekly program that included five activities, namely: analyzing home matches physical fitness training programs until PLC has issued the provisional decision to resume the league in August 2020. The referees were relieved from the physical training program, but they were limited to online programs via the electronic platform dedicated to the referees. Additionally, we adopted a weekly test program and a comprehensive program to round back referees into form and be ready for the coming period.”

In response to a question on the referees’ preparation programs for the next season, he said: “Certainly, the pre-season programs are completely different and for the first time the pre-season away summer training camp has been canceled. The Committee adopted online home individual training programs and still waiting for new medical plans, reports, and necessary medical checkups to be conducted in line with the instructions to be issued with the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority. All referees will do a second coronavirus test before kicking off the home training camp, if any, and medical tests will be made before each match for the referees, players, and organizers.”

On requests to task foreign referees to manage the league matches due to dissatisfaction with the VAR flaws, the Chairman of the Referees Committee stated: “This is a twofold-question! One is related to dissatisfaction with VAR technology use, and UAEFA is held liable to handle such an issue by adopting a marketing project of VAR technology. Requests raised by stakeholders via social medial platforms and media means are far from the protocol. Certain provisions govern VAR use if they are violated, and the UAEFA will be subject to penalties imposed by the FIFA Legislative Council. Therefore, it is necessary to adhere to the protocol to avoid any further penalties. The Referees Committee is currently working on marketing the VAR protocol to educate stakeholders on the mechanism of using this technology and cases which should be referred to VAR technology.”

Regarding appointing foreign referees, Al Badwawi stressed that H.H. Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice-Chairman of the Executive Council, and the Honorary of President of UAEFA, supports the Emirati referees substantially.

“I believe that the Emirati referees have achieved a lot gained a significant global reputation. Mistakes are expected in any football matches due to the nature of this game,” he said.

However, he insisted that the committee must minimize such mistakes and support Emirati referees as the central pillar of UAE football.

In response to a critical question on whether the Referees Committee inherited problems from its predecessor, he said: “Honestly, every person exerts sincere efforts according to the available inputs and administrative experience. However, by the end of the day, it is the stakeholders who evaluate that person’s performance as things in the world of football are crystal-clear, and you cannot ignore comments and reactions addressed by the concerned parties.”

He went on to say: “Undoubtedly, there were deficiencies in certain aspects, and we strive hard in the coming period to rebuild the fabric of the referees’ home.”

On steps taken by the Committee to fix abnormalities further improve the referees’ performance, Al Badwawi stated: “A new and flawless system will be adopted that defines the tasks of each person according to their specialty along with the junior and senior referees’ development programs. The Committee has already coordinated to kick off reach out programs in five countries, but the whole program was deferred due to the breakthrough of the novel COVID-19 pandemic. We received confirmation from the USA, Japan, Sweden, Uzbekistan, and Belgium to gain experience from various foreign schools. UAEFA also is one of the first countries to adopt the distance learning system via a platform dedicated to referees.

He stated: “Additionally, UAEFA established a Referee Academy that would work in harmony with the AFC Academy. The UAEFA originally initiated the idea in 2015, but the AFC implemented it as Singapore’s coach Shamsul resigned and joined the AFC. The Committee also started the processes of the referees’ home internal organization and issued new amendments to referee regulations, including the activation of sanctions and financial rewards.”

The Chairman of the Referees Committee concluded the interview by confirming that the UAEFA doors will remain open to all and that the Committee is so keen to receive opinions and proposals dedicated to referee performance development.