March 7, 2021

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FIFA Club World Cup 2020 – News – Mariana de Almeida making her way and leaving her mark

8 min read
FIFA Club World Cup 2020 - News - Mariana de Almeida making her way and leaving her mark
  • Argentinian is certainly one of three feminine referees set to make historical past in Qatar
  • Club World Cup will likely be her sixth FIFA event
  • Together with feminine colleague, she already made historical past within the Copa Libertadores

The day after officiating Independiente-Arsenal within the Argentinian high flight, Mariana de Almeida awakened early. She instantly observed 4 missed calls from her husband Javier Uziga, an assistant referee like her. Knowing he needs to be driving again from a match in Parana, she worriedly returned his name. However, when Javier answered, he was euphoric.

  • You’re going to the Club World Cup, Mariana! To the Club World Cup!

“I didn’t understand what he was saying, as I hadn’t yet seen my messages or the e-mail with the official designation,” De Almeida tells FIFA.com with amusing, simply hours earlier than embarking for Qatar. “I had no indication so, apart from being surprised, I felt enormous happiness and pride,” provides the 38-12 months-outdated assistant referee.

De Almeida, along with Brazilians Edina Alves Batista (referee) and Neuza Back (assistant referee), would be the first ladies to type a part of the refereeing group at a FIFA Club World Cup once they officiate on the rescheduled 2020 version from 4-11 February.

“On a personal level, I see it as recognition of my career and another nice vote of confidence in me and my work – all within the context of seeing more and more female referees called up for men’s tournaments. That wasn’t happening when I started out, so hopefully it’ll encourage more girls and women to take up refereeing.”

From fan and journalist to referee

So how did De Almeida first become involved in soccer? “Well, I had no family influence and I’m not a good player, but I’ve always liked it. I’d go to watch any game I could, especially with high school friends. That’s why I decided to pursue something sport-related.”

Consequently, she started finding out sports activities journalism in 2000. “One of the classes was on refereeing, the laws of the game more than anything, and I liked it. However, I felt that if I was going to be a woman with opinions on this, then I needed a deeper understanding,” she explains.

“So, I advised my professor, a former referee, and he thought it was a good suggestion. He advisable I take the course on the Argentine Association of Referees. ‘You’ll uncover a complete new aspect of issues there,’ he advised me, and he was proper!”

De Almeida didn’t encounter concern or prejudice from any quarter. “A secretary took my application, and I felt really good from the first minute. No one looked at me weirdly or asked me what I was doing there. That said, there weren’t many girls in the school of journalism either, so it all felt normal.”

Then the sensible a part of the course got here round. “That’s where I really started to enjoy it and began thinking of it as a possible career. At the time I was doing an internship for a sports daily, but I knew I couldn’t juggle both. So, I opted for refereeing.”

However, the prospect of being the on-area official didn’t enchantment. “I really liked to collaborate with the referee and fulfil that supporting role that sometimes becomes primary, because our decisions are important. I loved how the action appeared from the sidelines!”

From soil-collector to semi-final commander

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From soil-collector to semi-ultimate commander



Accumulated expertise

De Almeida considers herself to have been lucky in her career. “Nothing very strange has happened to me, nor have I ever left the field in tears vowing never to return. Quite the opposite, in fact.” That did not occur even when she started refereeing underage groups in 2006 as an permitted AFA match official. “Mothers were glad to see a woman, though they would then be angry if a decision didn’t go their way (laughs).”

Humour additionally got here in helpful in coping with some humorous conditions she skilled alongside the way, corresponding to when the sidelines have been very near the stands. “I’d take out my notecard to write down something, and someone would shout out their phone number… I couldn’t help laughing.”

When refereeing, De Almeida makes no distinction between males and ladies. “There’s just one set of rules. In Argentina, I know a lot of the women players, as we grew up together! The same with the guys. There’s respect on the pitch. We stopped being an unusual sight a long time ago.”

While she has been a FIFA assistant referee since 2008, her first FIFA event was the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2012, an occasion she nonetheless remembers fondly. “Over and above the excitement, I was the reserve assistant referee for the final, so I was also given an official flag, which I’ve been using ever since.”

The Argentinian later took half within the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, the 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, earlier than showing at her second senior Women’s World Cup in 2019, the place she fashioned a part of the VAR group for the ultimate. “It was a privilege that they trusted me with a tool I’d only recently come into contact with.”

Mariana de Almeida, Carlos del Cerro Grande and José María Sánchez, after the final of the FIFA Women World Cup 2019

© Others

Libertadores, Qatar and past

De Almeida was a part of one other landmark achievement in September 2020, when, along with compatriot Daiana Milone, they grew to become the primary feminine match officers to type a part of a refereeing group for Copa Libertadores responsibility (Editor’s notice: the Copa Sudamericana had earlier featured feminine officers earlier than the pandemic disrupted the occasion).

As destiny would have it, she was assigned Racing Club-Nacional, a serious fixture. “It’s true that we were called up because of COVID related withdrawals, but they trusted us even though we hadn’t been officiating in seven months, not to mention that we assistant refs came from the same country as the home team. That Libertadores call-up was later validated by subsequent ones when COVID was not a factor,” she tells us.

After officiating on the first skilled ultimate of the Argentinian Women’s Championship between Boca Juniors and River Plate, De Almeida is totally targeted on Qatar. “There are a few nerves, but I want to enjoy it in spite of the responsibility.” She reveals that she is in a WhatsApp group with the aforementioned Alves Batista and Back “to talk exclusively about the World Cup. I know them, having done VAR support for both of them at the World Cup and seen them at other tournaments, without ever working the same games.”

Looking past the Club World Cup, De Almeida is obvious about what she needs for the long run. “I’d like to officiate for as long as my body permits, which could be longer now that VAR has opened up another possible avenue for me. Aside from my goals, I’d like to see a female referee at the Copa America or at Qatar 2022. Those are opportunities to open doors and pave the way for generations to come.”

De Almeida and…

  • Being married to a different assistant referee. “We support, help and understand each other, although we’ve sometimes gone to bed angry after disagreeing about some decision.”
  • The Laws of the Game. “I keep a paper copy of each edition and like to have the latest one to hand in case I need to mark it or look for what I need.”
  • Memorabilia. “I hold on to a lot of shirts, including the one I wore the very first time I refereed, which was in a boys five-a-side league.”
  • Memorabilia (II). “I have the yellow cards I carried on my debuts in each category, and all the FIFA badges I’ve worn.”

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