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kill the referee

In all the World Cup excitement it's easy to forget there is another, parallel tournament going on, with just as much pressure, politics and sportsmanship - that of the referees.

The Belgian documentary 'Kill the Referee' (more soberly titled 'Les Arbitres' in French) offers a fascinating insight into the world of international football referees. The filmmakers had unique behind the scenes and on the field access to Euro 2008, following several referees, including Howard Webb, who was the center of some hotheaded controversy during the tournament but has gone on to be the referee of Sunday's final.

By far the most interesting and suspenseful parts of the documentary take place on the field, where we hear the comments of the referees and linesmen over their headsets. It's football in a way you've never seen before, with three men frantically trying to direct the action of 22 tatooed madmen in the great pressure cooker of a roaring stadium.

Holland Doc had the film online (with Dutch subtitles), but it appears to be gone. Here's the trailer though, and I'm sure you can find the whole thing online too.


waiting for a ball

In 1998, photographer Hans van der Meer published his photo book 'Dutch Fields' ('Hollandse Velden'), a superbly satirical look at amateur football. Its carefully framed images, taken on drizzly Sunday mornings on forlorn fields, captur… Read the full post »

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