The Road to Lithuania 2021 has become a reality thanks to the vision, and commitment of FIFA Referee Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina and FIFA Director of Refereeing Massimo Busacca. Their leadership has empowered a group of Futsal refereeing specialists (one from each Confederation) to develop a strategic plan to develop, train, and prepare the top Futsal refereeing prospects for the opportunity to work the pinnacle of the sport – a FIFA World Cup.
Over a year ago, this group of specialists started the process by revamping the Futsal Laws of the Game in order to make them more player and referee friendly. It is therefore important to underline that a competent group of futsal experts (coaches and players) were involved in this process too. This rewrite led to hours upon hours of meetings and analysis of match situations so that there could be a uniform and consistent interpretation of the Futsal Laws.
The final part of the ‘Road to Lithuania 2021’ has been the engagement of the 76 FIFA Futsal Referee Candidates (10 women and 66 men) from 52 different countries and from all Confederations. Despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA has been able to offer virtual courses to the cross-Confederation referee candidates with the objective to ensure correct and consistent application of the Laws. Using an extensive catalog of video clips, the expert instructors have begun the process of providing the candidate referees with the most up-to-date date training and information thereby ensuring they excel if they are called upon to blow the whistle in Lithuania later this year. Numerous and extensive courses (both virtually and in-person) are scheduled over the months preceding the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™. The objective: To ensure the selected referees are perfectly prepared and provide elite performances on the world’s stage.
“The Road to Lithuania 2021 is a first in the preparation of FIFA’s best Futsal referees and speaks highly of FIFA’s focus to provide the highest quality officials for their top Futsal competition”, says Brian Hall, member of FIFA’s Referees Committee supervising Futsal. “It highlights FIFA’s commitment to provide only the best referees for the Futsal World Cup. Every effort is being made to engage the pool of referee candidates almost nine months prior to the first match. As the referees begin their journey on the Road to Lithuania, they will be challenged both mentally and physically and they will need to earn the right to step on the pitch in Lithuania. The aim is to reach uniformity and consistency in their way of officiating games and in taking decisions”, underlines Hall.
In August, 38 referees will then be selected. Those match officials will officiate games during the most important Futsal competition in the world. The FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021™ will be played from 12 September to 3 October 2021 in the cities of Kaunas, Klaipeda and Vilnius.