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Monday, March 16, 2015

Interview with AFA and FIFA Referee, Salomé Di Iorio


A practicing labor rights attorney, AFA and FIFA match official, Salomé Di Iorio, discusses her life as a professional referee on the pitches of Argentina and around the world.

Discussion Items:

1. On her other profession as a lawyer.
2. On the key traits of a professional referee.
3. On her pre-match preparation techniques.
4. On the theme of machismo/sexism.
5. On the upcoming 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.

Career Highlights

  • Completed the AAA (Argentinean Referees Association) license course at the age of 18 in 1998.
  • Became a professional referee at the AFA in October 2001.
  • Began by refereeing youth games.
  • Became the first woman to referee in the Reserva (Reserve League) of the Primera División in 2005.
  • Became an international referee in 2006.
  • Became the first woman as a fourth official in the Primera División.
  • Officiated the 2009 Women's Copa Libertadores final.
  • Was a match official at the 2011 Women's Pan American Games.
  • Was a match official at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
  • Was a match official at the 2013 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
  • Was a match official at the 2014 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.
  • Is a lecturer at the AFA's managers' school.
Sources: AFA: Árbitra Internaciónal, Salomé Di Iorio and Soccerway: Jessica Salomé Di Iorio.

I am very pleased to welcome AFA (The Argentina Football Association) and FIFA referee, Jessica Salomé Di Iorio. The native of Quilmes, Argentina, has been a pioneer in the referee's profession. She was the first woman to call a game in the Primera Division's Reserve League and the first female to become a fourth official in the Primera itself, respectively.

Salomé has a rare skill set that enables her to take part in both men's and women's games in Argentina along with international matches for women. As you can see from her background, she has extensive experience on pitches around the world. Salomé may achieve (FIFA has not yet made a final decision on match officials) another career highlight in a few months at the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.

¡Salomé, Bienvenida al World Football Commentaries!

1. On her other profession as a lawyer/Sobre su otra profesión como abogada:

Se ha convertida en una árbitra a la edad de 18 años y, posteriormente, una mujer pionera en Argentina. Como estudio sus antecedentes, me parece que usted ha sido una apasionada para el estudio del fútbol toda de su la vida. También tiene una vida fuera del terreno de juego como una abogada.

¿Qué tipo de la ley dedica usted y hay similitudes entre su trabajo como una abogada y su otra profesión como una árbitra internacional?

You became a referee at the age of 18 and subsequently a pioneer as a female match official in Argentina. From studying your background, it seems to me that you have been a passionate student of football your entire life. You also have a life outside of the pitch as a lawyer.

What type of law do you practice and are there similarities between your work as a lawyer and duties as an international referee?

Salomé Di Iorio
Me dedico especialmente al derecho laboral. Estudié ambas profesiones de casualidad. No es busque (al menso de forma consciente) compatilidad alguna. Peró creo que en cierto punto, hay coincidencias. Esencialmente, el hecho de impartir justicia. Es lo que me moviliza en la vida.

I specialize particularly in labor rights law. I studied both professions by sheer coincidence. It is not a search (at least not consciously) for any compatibility. But I believe that at a certain point, there are similarities. Essentially, the desire to impart justice. That is what motivates me in life.

2. On the key traits of a professional referee/Sobre las características claves de una árbitra profesional:

La AFA dijo en 26 diciembre 2014 que habían 5 árbitras y 461 árbitros profesionales en Argentina. Me gustaría plantear una pregunta doble: 

¿Qué características son las más integrales para una árbitra profesional tener éxito en Argentina y qué distinta arbitrar un partido de una liga argentina de hombres frente a un partido internaci
ónal con mujeres?

The AFA said on 26 December 2014 that there were 15 female and 461 male professional referees in Argentina. I would like to pose a two-part question: Which characteristics are the most integral for a successful professional referee in Argentina and how different is officiating a domestic league men's game compared to an international one with women players?

Salomé Di Iorio
En principio, corrijo, somos cuatro las árbitras FIFA en Argentina (es el cupo que otorga FIFA para cada asociación nacional.) Considero que la personalidad, buena conducción y entendimiento del juego, sumado al sentido común y excelente estado físico son los pilares para poder destacarse como árbitra. La diferencia basica entre un partido de hombres y mujeres, tal vez está más en lo físico. En la rapidez del juego. Peró a nivel internaciónal, hay muchas selecciónes que estan al nivel masculino. En cuanto a lo físico, con lo cual, casí no existen diferencias.

Mainly, to be correct, there are four female FIFA referees in Argentina (it is the quota mandated by FIFA for each national association). I consider personality, good game management and understanding of the play. In addition (to those qualities), common sense and excellent physical condition are the pillars to be able to carry out your duties as a referee. The basic difference between a men's and a women's game, perhaps, is more about physicality and the rapidity of play. However, at the international level, there are many national teams who are at the men's level. In respects to the physical aspect such that almost no differences exist.

3. On how she prepares physically, mentally and tactically for a game/Sobre como ella prepara de la forma física, mentalmente y tácticamente para un partido:

Me gustaría preguntarle sobre su preparación cotidiano antes de un partido porque es rara para los periodistas, entrenadores y aficionados aprender como una árbitra se prepara para un partido cada semana. 

¿Qué tipos de ejercicios físicos se puede realizar durante la semana, cómo prepara usted mentalmente y que métodos utiliza para estudiar los próximos equipos en Argentina o en los campos internaci

I would like to ask you about your pre-match preparation routine since journalists, coaches and fans rarely learn how a referee prepares for a game each week.

What types of fitness exercises do you perform during the week, how do you prepare mentally and which methods do you use to study upcoming teams in Argentina or internationally?

Salomé Di Iorio
La preparación física es exactamente la misma que los hombres. No hay distinción por se mujer. El trabajo de entrenamiento cotidiano es igual. Máxime considerando que para arbitrar hombres, debemos estar a su nivel. Con lo cual, me parece perfecto que al momento de entrenar no existan diferencias de genero. Porque en el partido, a los jugadores no les interesa si los dirige un hombre o una mujer. Corren de la misma forma. Y la credibilidad en los fallos comienza con estar cerca da la acciónMentalmente trabajo mucho con ejercicios de coaching y visualizaciónes. 

En cuanto a la preparación estrictamente táctica, intento observar la mayor cantidad de partidos posibles. Asistiendo a los estadios o por TV y estudiar así la forma de juego de los equipos para poder minimizar errores al momento de arbitrar.

The physical preparation is exactly the same as for the men. There isn't any difference if you are a woman. The daily training exercises are similar. Particularly considering that to referee men's games, we must be at their level. Such that, it appears perfectly clear to me during the time of training, there are not any differences of any kind. Because during the game, players don't care if the match is being called by a man or a woman. They run the same way. And credibility with fouls begins with being close to the action. Mentally, I work a great deal with coaching and visualization exercises.

With regards to a strictly tactical preparation, I try to watch the highest caliber of games as possible. By attending games at stadiums or by watching on television. And to study, in this way, the style of play by teams to be able to minimize mistakes at the time of refereeing a game.

4. On the theme of machismo/sexism: Sobre la tema de machismo:

El año pasado, Alexandre Mattos de Cruzeiro, fue citado diciendo lo siguiente acerca de Fernanda Colombo Uliana, una árbitra de la Serie A Brasileña.

"Vaya planteandose en la revista de Playboy. No trabaje en el fútbol." 

Romario, el famoso ex futbolista, respondió: "Me parece que él (Mattos) todavía está viviendo en la época de un hombre primitivo. Es un pensamiento anticuado que no sea correcto."

Usted y Fernanda son pioneras tratando de romper "el techo de cristal" en arbitraje. Usted trabaja en una profesión dominada por los hombres (461 versus 15) en la Argentina. 

En su opinión, ¿le parecen que las normas de evaluación sean diferentes porque se trata de una mujer, ha encontrada usted alguna forma del machismo y cree que sea más difícil para una mujer tener éxito en un ambiente profesional de fútbol?

Last year, Cruzeiro director Alexandre Mattos, was quoted as saying the following about Fernanda Colombo Uliana:

"Go pose in Playboy. Don't work in football." 

Romario, the famous ex footballer, responded:

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

You and Fernanda are women pioneers trying to break a glass ceiling in refereeing. You work in a mostly male dominated profession in Argentina. In your opinion, do you feel that the evaluation standard is different because you are a woman, have you encountered any form of sexism and is the bar set higher for women in a professional football environment?

Salomé Di Iorio

Siempre existe la subestimación. Lamentablemente una mujer debe mostrar el doble que un hombre para destacarse y ascender.aún así es complejo posicionarse en un ambiente que, a pesar de la supuesta 'Igualdidad de derechos,' continua dudando de nuestras capacidades.

Being underestimated always exists. Unfortunately, a woman has to do twice as much as a man to stand out and climb up the ladder. And even so, it is complicated to place yourself in an environment that, despite the purported, 'Equality of rights', doubt over our capabilities continues.

5. On the upcoming 2015 World Cup/Sobre la Copa Mundial Femenina en Canadá:

At a recent FIFA referees' meeting in Portugal.

En el mes de junio, usted podia tener la oportunidad viajar una vez más (ella fue una árbitra en la Copa Mundial Femenina U-20 en 2014 ) en Canadá para arbitrar la Copa Mundial Femenina de FIFA. La FIFA aún no ha tomado una decisión final sobre asignación de las árbitras. Ya hemos discutido su forma de prepararse para un partido. Me gustaría ampliar este tema preguntarle sobre su estilo árbitral al nivel internaci

Este torneo representa el más alto nivel internacional del fútbol femenino. ¿Podría usted, por favor, describa su filosofía acerca de las árbitras (aplicación de las leyes/reglamentos, gestión del partido, la comunicación con los jugadores rivales y con su terna arbitral), junto con cómo usted interpreta la función de una árbitra durante un torneo internaci
In June, you may have the opportunity to travel once again (she was a referee at the 2014 U-20 World Cup) to Canada to referee at the FIFA Women's World Cup. FIFA has not made a final decision about the assignment of referees. We have already discussed how you prepare for a game. I would like to expand on that topic by asking you about your refereeing style at the international level.

This competition represents the highest international level of women's football. Could you please describe your philosophy about refereeing (application of the laws, game management, communication with players and your own team of referees), along with how you interpret a referee's role during an international tournament?

Salomé Di Iorio
En un torneo internaciónal de tamaña trascendencia se cuida absolutamente cada detalle. Sabemos que las miradas están puestas especialmente en nuestros aciertos/errores y al ser humanas, podemos recaer en ello. Peró la idea es minimizar lo máximo posible el margen de error y sacar bien los partidos. Se trabaja mucho en lo físico, técnico, táctico y psicológico, haciendo un trabajo integral de todos estos aspectos. 

En cuanto a la tecnología, contamos con los aparatos intercomunicadores que son de gran utilidad para estar continuamente comunicadas en la cuaterna o quinteta arbitral y no dejar de lado ningún detalle. Así mismo, tambien el año pasado en el Mundial se implementó el uso del aerosol que es muy practico y ayuda a cumplimentar mejor aspectos esenciales como la distancia en los tiros libres cercanos al area y la posición en que debe colocarse el balón.

In an international tournament of such a transcendent nature, you absolutely worry over every detail. We know that all eyes will be upon us especially regarding our good calls and mistakes and as human beings, we can relapse into that. But the idea is to reduce the margin of error to the utmost and to have the games play out well. You work a great deal on the physical, technical, tactical and psychological planes concentrating an integral focus upon all of these aspects.

With regards to technology, we rely upon communication devices that are a great help to be constantly in contact with the four or five-woman referee team. And we don't leave any detail to chance. That being said, also last year at the men's World Cup, use of the aerosol spray was implemented. It's very practical and helps to better complement essential aspects such as the distance of free kicks close to the penalty box and the position where you should position the ball.

Salomé, le agradezco mucho para la oportunidad hablar con usted. Espero que tenga usted mucho éxito en el futuro.

Salomé, thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you. I hope that you have much success in the future.

Salomé Di Iorio

Muchas gracias.

Many thanks.


"Happy to have been chosen for the FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada! Great joy! The only refereeing team from the same country!"

Mariana De Almeida from Argentina was also selected as an assistant referee by FIFA.

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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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