This month there's a big game happening. You may have heard about it? You also may have heard about the cold weather, which has played a memorable part in the USA-Mexico rivalry in the past. With these things in mind, this month we're asking U.S. Soccer's full-time referees about officiating games in the cold and taking charge of games between heated rivalries. In part one we talked to Baldomero Toledo and in part two we spoke to Terry Vaughn. For part three, Ricardo Salazar checked in. Now, for part four, here's Jair Marrufo answering a few questions with the Official Take Blog:
Official Take: How is refereeing in the cold different from refereeing a game in warm weather?
Jair Marrufo: There are many differences between the two. If its raining or windy, it could affect the flight of the ball. On the other hand, in some parts of our country it gets very hot and we have to get ready for heat and humidity.
OT: How does an official prepare to referee a game in the cold? Do you train in cold weather?
JM: To prepare for a cold game it takes a little bit more preparation. I usually train early in the morning when it a little colder and I take a more time warming up than usual. Instead of a twenty minute warm up, I take about 40 minutes of warming up and stretching. It really comes down to your mindset: I know as soon as I blow the whistle to start the game the cold is removed from my mind.
OT: What are a few helpful tips or reminders for referees who are going to ref a game in the cold?
JM: I can't stress enough the importance of a good warm up and stretch before a game. This is vital to prevent injuries. Don't forget to wear your your layers; it really helps. If you're an assistant referee, it's OK to wear gloves. I recommend stretching again at half time to prevent injuries.
OT: At what point do you bring out the yellow ball?
JM: The yellow ball is necessary when there is snow or fog. It helps tremendously for everyone (referees and players alike) and is useful for TV purposes.
OT: What about a "rivalry" game? There are these big derby games all around the world. How does one prepare for a game between the biggest of rivals?
JM: The preparation should be the same with all games, but for big rivalries we should keep in mind that it is more emotional for players who want to get that win over their biggest rival. In case of Mexico vs USA, I know I will never get to referee that match but I have been involved in many rivalries between MLS teams. Like players, I think referees get pumped up as well for big games like Chivas USA vs. Galaxy, Fire vs DC United, or FC Dallas vs. Dynamo. We all know the teams are coming out to win no matter what it takes and, for referees, we know we need to step up and also show our capabilities. Some factors you always consider are sold out crowds, team standings in the league, the various players, and the atmosphere in the stadium.
OT: What 'rivalry' games have you done that were unique? What sticks out in your mind about these games between big rivals?
JM: I have been involved in some great rivalry games here in MLS. The ones that stick out more in my mind are Galaxy vs. Chivas USA and Houston vs. Dallas. In LA, both teams reside in one city and they also share a stadium. Those factors make [the game] more compelling for bragging rights. [Both Houston and FCD] reside in the same state, four hours away, and games like this always sell out the stadiums. The atmosphere is tremendous and you always get goose bumps walking out of the tunnel.