Controversial FIFA Referee Action in ‘The Game’


Ten years ago, Swiss filmmaker Roman Hodel was on the defensive. As he watched world Cup At football matches with friends, at home and in bars, the rest of the group made the referee’s calls; Houdell argued in favor of the ruling. Hodel, like many people, knows some details about the players, even though he was not a huge fan of football. Referees were another thing – working on the field but unknown to most spectators, they were hidden in plain sight. The imbalance in knowledge aroused the enthusiasm of the young director. “A few years later, after my testimony on the film, this idea appeared,” said Houdell. “And I thought, maybe it’s possible to film.”

The Hodel documentary “The Game”, released in 2020, marks a return to this long-held idea. The film follows Fedayi San, a FIFA Judgment, he does his daily work under several thousand eyes. He cannot fire a call from the field without provoking a reaction. A yellow card throws the stadium crowd, decked out in black and gold, in a swarming frenzy. After a controversial moment on the field, San shouted into his headphone that he hadn’t stopped working because “he had no restart”. “I had to make a decision,” San tells the assistant referees, but his coach, facing an observer and listening to his voice, sucks his teeth in disagreement. Players protest San’s decisions. San’s nephew and father are watching from above, sitting in the stands and tracking every movement of their relatives. (San’s father kindly debriefs him in a car after the match.) It seems that the day of the game is doomsday; The tongue itself can only see so much.

A film director like Hodel can deal with the judgment’s need to account for the preference point problem. Like referee, the manager faces limits to what he can discover in real time; Project Hodel required eight cameras and sixteen crew members just to follow San and those around them during one match. But the director has the luxury of time and opportunity to revisit the footage as he works to realize his bigger vision. Although the events in “The Game” seem to happen in a single day, the frames that feature characters beside the San – those in the stadium, the San family in the stands, and the rulers chasing the locker rooms in black robes – are filmed on different days of gameplay. And in various arenas. The sound of San’s exhalation as he blows through the field, at some moments, is the sound recorded for Hodel’s breath. “Reality doesn’t always have to hold back documentary,” Houdell explained. The tangible facts of the matches that were filmed, such as the results and dates, did not receive much attention. Conveying the experience of the football referee, very marginal and the central character on the field, remained Hodel’s main goal: “So I decided to let the movie do this trick.”

Certainly, controlling the emotions of thousands with a hand signal is a remarkable strength. However, Hodel notes that the referees are often stunned by their mistakes, as they get caught in the broadcasts they broadcast on their phones during breaks and after matches. “I should have told you,” said one of San’s colleagues, looking at the analysis of his calls. The two of them sit on a wooden bench and look at the small screen. “Penalty?” San asks. The voice of the young commentator gives his rating: “It is not easy for Fada San.”

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