US Referee Connection is pleased to welcome Mr. Brian Poeschel. He is a USSF National referee in the MLS league.
Brian, please accept a warm welcome to US Referee Connection.
When did you decide to become a referee, and who were some of the influences on your career?
I started refereeing at 15 years old. As I player, I loved the game. I took up refereeing to pick up extra cash on the weekend – much more enjoyable than sacking groceries.
Influences: I can’t say I really looked up to any one individual. I look at all referee’s. I have always tried to learn from every referee I watch. Some referee’s are great at player relationships, some at movement and fitness, some on the line, some as a referee. I try to take the best talents and skills from everyone.
What do you think is the most misunderstood aspect of the refereeing profession by coaches, players, fans and the media?
1. Coaches, players and the media are full time positions. They have full time referee expectations, when we are only part time.
2. Referee’s should perfect. Everyone involved in the game makes mistakes, including the referee’s. The abuse that referee’s suffer as we do our best is too much.
From your perspective as a professional referee. What are the best and worst aspects of being a referee and/or assistant?
Best: The camaraderie and friendships as we all work extremely hard to get the match right.
Worst: Physical toll on the body. Training and refereeing at the professional level is abusive to the body. I get tired of the body hurting.
In your opinion, what are the key attributes that a modern-day referee must have to be successful domestically and internationally?
I can only comment domestically, but it is simple. The referee must adapt to what is requested and desired. For instance, if certain tackles are yellow and some are red, the referee must execute this per the instructions or no more games. In this case, you must get the call right, but not just as you see it, but as everyone sees it.
How do you diffuse a volatile situation that you know players are about to explode?
The first technique is distance. Get them as far away from each other. If they are not together yet, and speaking to them individually, try to talk them down to bring their perception of being “wronged” back to reality.
What are your impressions about the proposal to add additional assistant’s referees on the field?
I think a good move. I believe players are afraid to deceive the game with their presence – more eyes.
What do you thing about the ‘RESPECT” campaign that is going on in Europe for the last 2 years?
Propaganda. Deep seeded bias and racism is not cured with a patch and some feel good TV commercials.
What’s your pre-match routine?
I am flexible and adaptable to whatever most ref’s want. I do need a good warm-up, though. Prior to going out, I like to take one quiet minute by myself to focus and get ready.
Pre match meal?
I like a big meal. Salad, protein (sandwich) and some carbs (potatoes or pasta).
We all have bad games, how do you deal such match in your mind?
It doesn’t take me long to recognize the mistake – I usually realize it before the match ends, although sometimes video is needed. The bigger the mistake, the longer the time I need to deal with it. I quickly try to acknowledge the mistake and try to forget about it.
Tell about your style of officiating how would you describe it.
I am more rooted in the professionalism and laws than most referees. I believe so much of the game is gray (fouls and match control), but many aspects are black and white. I take a firm line against players who try to deceive and make the game less enjoyable, such as, diving, vicious tackles, time wasting, delaying the restart, professional bench decorum. A simple motto: Play hard. Play nice. Be a jerk – go home.
Most memorable game moment?
I have had the opportunity to referee the 3rd division final twice – both intense, very difficult games with thousands of people and national TV – a great thrill.
How often do you train?
Depending on what is upcoming – fitness tests, games, etc., but more or less, 4 days a week.
What advice would you give to anyone who desires to become a referee?
Learn to referee well. The better you are, the less you get yelled at – nobody likes getting yelled at. The better you are, the better your games, the more fun the games. Take it seriously, work hard, and your career will progress.
Brian, thank you very much for your kind and insightful contribution to our Referee Community.