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Friday, December 5, 2014

Interview with an Aspiring Referee, Claudia Romani

Photo credit: Claudia Romani
November 2014.

A Miami-based international fashion model, Claudia Romani, discusses the reasons behind a new personal challenge to become a referee.

Discussion Items

1. On her personal history.
2. On the idea to become a referee.
3. On the process to become a referee.
4. On other women referees in the professional ranks.
5. On how she would respond that this is a publicity stunt.

Claudia Romani (is an international fashion model based in Miami, Florida. She was born in L'Aquila, in the central Italian region of Abruzzo, which is located about an hour and half from Rome. Claudia has lived predominantly abroad since departing Italy for Denmark after completing high school.

Appearing on Esta Noche Tu Night during 2013 (in Spanish).

Claudia has an extensive modeling portfolio which includes the covers of GQ and Maxim, respectively. She has also been a cover model for Miami Life (where she holds the role of a model consultant), Gente Sur and Semanario Argentino among others. Claudia has also appeared in the Danish, Turkish and Slovene editions of FHM along with Cosmopolitan in the UK, More! and Playboy Italy, respectively. She has also done Spanish language television work for Esta Noche Tu Night on Mega TV along with Despierta America and Noche de Perros. To augment her impressive portfolio, Claudia has appeared in commercials for companies such as Ford, Toyota and Samsung, respectively.

Recently, Claudia decided on a somewhat unusual personal challenge: To become a Referee. Let's learn a little more about the native of L'Aquila, along with her new endeavor, in an exclusive interview at The Soccer Translator.

Welcome/Benvenuta, Claudia!

1. On her personal history:

Interviewed by TV Uno L'Aquila during 2013 (in Italian). 

You were born in L'Aquila in the region of Abruzzo. Almost everyone knows about your love and support for AC Milan. Did you play football during your childhood and when did you begin to follow Italian and world football?

Claudia Romani:

I'm from L'Aquila, yes, and I am a proud madrina of L'Aquila Calcio.

Photo credit: Michele Modica.
La Fontana Luminosa in L'Aquila.

I am also a big AC Milan supporter. I started to love football at a young age, but I never played.

Interviewer's Note:

"Madrina" (Godmother) refers to a public figure who supports and promotes her hometown club. In this particular case, L'Aquila Calcio.

2. On the idea to become a referee:

When did you first consider the idea to become a professional referee? Was it something out of the blue or had you considered this decision for a long time?

Claudia Romani:

It's more of a personal challenge than a real career change as I have realized that the soccer world is still somewhat macho (sexist). I am a model and won't be quitting that any time soon.

Why did you decide to do this now especially since refereeing is a very difficult profession that receives constant criticism? In your opinion, what are your best qualities that will help you to become a good referee?

Claudia Romani:

I have seen some very bad decisions during the World Cup, and thought I would be more objective. And less corrupted.

3. On the process to become a referee:

Photo credit: Claudia Romani
in December 2013.
With the AC Milan gold kit from SoccerPro.

"We r going through a very though time...
but a Milanista is for life! ;)
CMON guys! 
Thanks to #SOCCERPRO!!!" 

Did you take this preliminary referee course in Italy or the USA? Did you complete your studies in person or via online study from Miami?

Claudia Romani:

The course has nothing to do with Italy. Maybe one day, but I don't live there and wouldn't have the chance to attend nor work there. Studying in Italy also would be a dream, but I am based in the United States. Plus, the news coverage has been somewhat distorted. I am just doing this course in addition (to her modeling work) and not as a full-time career change.

I am taking the course here in Florida and completing part of it online. It's a basic course to referee in Florida (FSR). It's great that they set up most of it online so anyone in any city can learn. It is very well-articulated and covers all aspects of the game. The course is pretty clear and well-structured.

What I believe is you learn on the pitch and anyone attending anyway is really into the beautiful game already.

Can you please tell us a little about the entry level requirements for this referee course that you took? For example, age and/or physical requirements?

Claudia Romani:

There are no age restrictions, but obviously having to run for quite a bit makes it necessary to be somewhat fit. I have been pleased with the professionalism of everyone involved yet there is always more to learn. Especially to move further on in this career. I also think a good referee is developed by experience as well.

Have you been a referee's assistant yet and is your ultimate objective to work one day in the Italian Serie A? 

Claudia Romani:

I haven't started yet to be a referee's assistant in games. And as I said, I am not moving back to Italy. I don't intend to become a full-time referee. Of course Serie A, mainly for an Italian, is a dream. But that requires so much experience and work! 

This process is still all in the early stages for me. I am such a big Milan fan and love soccer. And as I said before, even if the process started in a weird way and more for the sake of it, getting the referee license became a challenge. Because in so many counties, soccer is still such a sexist field. And I hope to motivate women who dream of a career in it, to go for it, and follow their dreams!

4. On other women referees in the professional ranks:

You noted that refereeing can be a sexist field. Sian Massey-Ellis and Fernanda Colombo Uliana are two examples of women who have worked as professional referee's assistants in top-flight leagues (the Premier League in England and the Brazilian Serie A, respectively.) Have you had a chance yet to communicate with either of them for advice about what to expect?

Claudia Romani:

No but I have been interviewed by Argentinian media since they have Salomé Di Iorio. But my idea was by taking the referee's course, I intended to show more women that it is possible to participate in the soccer world in some way as I am all for Girl Power!

As I said, the way information (about her decision to pursue becoming a referee) was given has been somewhat distorted as often happens. But should the only result be to encourage more women to take the course and become a part of it, then I am satisfied.

Interviewer's Note:

Salomé Di Iorio is an Argentinean lawyer and professional referee.

Photo credit: Romario de Souza Faria.
Fernanda Colombo Uliana in 2014. 
"#No to Sexism."

"It seems that he (Mattos) is still living in the caveman era.
It is a backwards thought that is not proper."

Speaking of Fernanda Colombo Uliana, a few months ago, Cruzeiro director Alexandre Mattos, was quoted as saying:"Go pose in Playboy. Don't work in football." Romario, the famous ex footballer, responded by calling him a caveman along with the following:

In your opinion, do you feel that the evaluation standard will be different because you are a woman and a well-known international fashion model? Do you think the bar is set higher for women in a professional football environment?

Claudia Romani:

I agree with Romario. Let her prove herself first. And then judge her based solely on refereeing skills. Not on her looks. 

In too many fields people, mainly women, are judged by only what meets the eye... 

But I do believe that skills go a long way and can beat prejudice.

5. On how she would respond that this is a publicity stunt:

Interviewed by ICTV during 2010 (in English). 

To those who might say that you are doing this as a publicity stunt, how would you respond to them?

Claudia Romani:

Oh, for sure. Mainly, since it's been in the news, so many people will already feel like I am doing it for publicity. I hope to prove them wrong.

Soccer is my passion. So even just learning more about it makes me happy. I believe in the power of learning and it's for real!

Claudia, thank you very much for consenting to this interview. I hope you will have much success in your new endeavor. All the best wishes to you.

Thank you so much. 

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator from Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and The Soccer Translator since 2008. 

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