For the past four years, Canada Soccer National List Referee Drew Fischer has been on the FIFA List of Referees receiving appointments to tournaments such as […]
For the past four years, Canada Soccer National List Referee Drew Fischer has been on the FIFA List of Referees receiving appointments to tournaments such as the 2015 Concacaf Men’s Under-17 Championship, the 2015 Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, and the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup. This summer, he will be a member of the first-ever Video Assistant Referee crew at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™. Fischer, who will join Canada Soccer Referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin, and Assistant Referee Chantal Boudreau in France, reflected on his career thus far ahead of his appointment.
Q: Canada Soccer is in the midst of a golden generation of referees. What do you think it is about Canadians that makes for good match officials?
Drew Fischer: Canada has always had a strong program of development that has led to some notable successes. In recent years (say, the past 10), I think that expanded involvement in MLS was originally a big boost – more officials getting more top level games and with greater frequency. And now with the addition of the CPL, that should only get better. We now have more than 250 professional games to be played in Canada this year. That is more than I can remember at any point in my career. That is a huge developmental boost for the referee program, just as it is for the players. Within the women’s program, the success of the national team also contributes to more officials seeing top level competition.
Q: The growth of the women’s game in the past 30 years has been monumental including the success of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™. What does it mean to be appointed to a tournament that has done so much for female athletes internationally?
DF: Being a part of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a tremendous honour. It’s an opportunity to work on the biggest stage with a group of outstanding officials from around the world.
Q: When did you first know that there was potential for you to reach the FIFA List?
DF: From the time you get a National badge, everyone hopes that FIFA is a possibility. When I started to work regularly in MLS, it became more of a real possibility for me to reach that list. Nothing is ever guaranteed, and there are always obstacles and challenges, but there was a path laid out for me at that point.
Q: You’ve been a FIFA List referee for five years. What’s the hardest part about living the life of an international referee?
DF: This is my 5th year as a FIFA referee. The hardest part is also in some ways the best part – the travel. Doing this job means a lot of time away from home and away from family. The rewards are worth it – the experiences and opportunities that it has provided me have been invaluable. But it can still be hard to be away as much as we are.
Q: Before leaving for Russia, Joe Fletcher said that the hardest part about being in the VAR both is the silence. What’s your biggest concern going to a tournament knowing you’ll be away from the action, making decisions that could potentially affect the outcome of a game?
DF: I’m going to disagree with Joe a little bit here! The silence is unusual – it’s obviously very different from being in the middle of a stadium – but it isn’t necessarily harder for me. There is a pressure that comes from being a VAR – namely that the expectation from the world is perfection (in a way that isn’t exactly true as a referee). While that probably isn’t always achievable, our goal is to get as close as possible. So there is a challenge that comes with that. All of that said, as a referee or an assistant referee, we make decisions every game that potentially affect the outcome of a game. This is no different in that regard. We rely on our knowledge, experience and training, and use that to make the best possible decisions.
Canada Soccer outlines return to soccer guidelines. The return to soccer guidelines provide member organizations with a five-step process, including a checklist of weighted questions known as the Return to Soccer Assessment Tool.