Miami.- The Concacaf Nations League is a confederation-wide tournament that will be contested by all 41 members in a three-tier promotion and demotion competition structure.
Only a week or so ago, the widely-anticipated Nations League got off to a flying start with the qualifying phase, which will ultimately seed teams and serve as a qualifier for the flagship Gold Cup.
“The Nations League will not only be great for our players in Concacaf, but a fantastic opportunity for our referees. Let’s go back to some of the things we need to expose our referees to: and one of that is football at the highest level, so what this will do is expose referees from the smallest to the biggest member association to the idea of professionalism and top-level football and this is key,” Hall told concacaf.com.
“Also, it will expose referees in their own backyard and acclimatize them to different environments and it will be a great test of their abilities, it will examine each referee to see where they are at, because as you know each referee thinks he is the best in his country, but where is he in reality, and that is why the Nations League is so good,” he added.
Hall said the opportunities that the Nations League will afford match officials has triggered a sense of excitement throughout the ranks of the referee spectrum.
“Every month we have 17 games, this means 17 referees in charge of games, 17 fourth officials, and 34 assistant referees given a game every month.
“The referees are so excited for the opportunity and for each of these games we have to assign one of our top assessors to give us feedback either daily, weekly or on a monthly basis,” said Hall, a former Fifa-accredited referee.
The Nations League, he notes, will not only serve as a growth platform for players, but “is also a part of our development and in another year or so it is going to pay off”.
“We have to come up with creative ways to develop the referees so we can provide fresh referees for all these games… but before we get to the more competitive Champions League, this will be a chance for our TARP (Targeted Advanced Referee Program) and other referees to develop, and with the Nations League qualifying going on now, it is a great way to see who will qualify, like the teams do, for the crucial tournaments,” Hall reasoned.
Importantly Hall, who officiated in two matches at the Japan/South Korea 2002 World Cup, said the performance of referees will be noted with the aim of matriculation to other top-class competition, including the Gold Cup.
“That is definitely so… we have a supervisor of the assessors and our assessments are sent to our assessment advisory team which evaluates each assessment.
“The referees in the Nations League will be assessed with the hope that they get to the Gold Cup, Champions League, World Cup qualifying final round, and so on,” said Hall, a California native.
The 57-year-old sought to underlined the invaluable role of the referee in the broader development agenda, and he is clearly inspired to lead the charge for Concacaf.
“We must recognise that refereeing is a vital part of football. In Concacaf, with the support of the president (Victor Montagliani), the Council and the Chief of Football Officer Manolo Zubiria, we have individuals who understand the contribution of the referee in the success of football.
“As a confederation we are working every day to provide new opportunities to challenge, train, develop and to educate our referees, because in the long run, football is going to benefit,” Hall expressed.
Looking back at the 2017 Gold Cup, the experienced administrator holds the view that the performance of Concacaf referees and other categories of match officials was on target, an indication that the varied development programs are beginning to bear fruits.
“In the last Gold Cup not much was said of the referees because they hit a home run with their performance on the field, and that’s our goal; we want to hit a home run, we want to get a hat-trick with every appointment and every program we put together.
“Starting next year we will have new uniforms where the word’ Excellence” will be sewn onto the sleeve, and that is our word as we strive for excellence on the field, in the classroom, in preparation… and if we keep that word and strive to live up to it, then I think we will be the best development and educational program in the world,” concluded Hall, who was re-appointed head of refereeing in 2016, having held the position prior.