Moving scenes after the World Cup final. The Polish referee revealed what he heard in the dressing room
The Polish team of referees received much praise for leading the final of this year’s World Cup at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar, in which Argentina triumphed on penalties. The almost 42-year-old Marciniak was helped as assistants by Tomasz and Paweł Sokolnicki, the son of the former arbiter and president of the Polish Football Association, Michał Listkiewicz. Tomasz Kwiatkowski was responsible for the VAR team.
Marciniak, who after returning from Qatar — together with his associates — met a group of journalists at the PZPN headquarters, realizes that he would not be able to referee such an important match if the Polish players had advanced to at least the semi-finals (they were eliminated in the round of 16 after a 3-1 loss to France.
The rest of the text below the video…
— I have the impression that our players, because they played at the World Cup and against France and Argentina, dreamed of such a final. And they wanted me to judge him. On a more serious note, that’s what the tournament looks like, unfortunately. It’s not just that the judge is the best. Very often, the form of a given representation or federation that a given arbitrator represents has an impact on how far it can go, he said.
“In our case, it just so happened that we were among the candidates for the final from the very beginning. You know it right away. You can see it in the matches we are scheduled for and what kind of training we have. After the Argentina-Australia match in the round of 16, we knew something was up. Earlier we had a match of the second round of the group stage (France vs. Denmark – PAP). There was talk of a quarter-final, we were pretty sure of that. It turned out that it wasn’t… Well, there were four matches left, actually three, because the third place is usually a prize for someone young or a representative of the hosts. Any of those three would be great luck for us, but when you’re so close to the final, that’s what you’re thinking about.”
There were already prerequisites that allowed us to believe that it was the Poles who would get their dream final.
“We expected to be in a very small group. In addition, these most experienced judges, like Daniele Orsato, went around saying: “Saimon, only you, no one else.” Of course, we kept our feet firmly on the ground, but each day we realized more and more that we were getting closer. We were sitting in a large hall, FIFA’s chief referee Pierluigi Collina had his big magic card, the cast was already printed there. A room filled with the best judges in the world and suddenly you hear your name… Amazing moment, it’s hard to describe. I remember that first I hugged Paweł (Sokolnicki – PAP), then “Liści” (Tomasz Listkiewicz – PAP). They both got emotional, but they persevered until the end, he added.
When did the Polish judges find out about their nomination for the final?
– As a rule, the cast was announced 48 hours before the games. An exception was made here, we learned on Thursday, 72 hours before the match. Collina is an experienced manager. He probably knew from his experience that the judge needed an extra 24 hours for the texts to come in, congratulations. And then it’s time to focus. Nicola Rizzoli, a former excellent referee, accosted us himself and said: “Gentlemen, friendly advice. Turn off your phones. Only answer the most important calls, from your family. Because there is such a hustle and bustle in the head …”. You know, euphoria, joy, but then comes stress. This will not be cheated. Even a cold guy like me. Adrenaline was greater than usual – admitted the most famous Polish referee.
As he added, he was rarely as focused as in the final.
“Sometimes you can’t be at that level of concentration for 90 minutes and then you find certain moments where you joke with the player. And here there was no reason or situation for jokes. I saw it from the beginning, for example when Adrien Rabiot fouled Rodrigo de Paul, he pushed him away without the ball. Already in the sixth minute I knew that it was going to be hot and I had to go to absolute heights. It was necessary to manage – emphasized Marciniak.
The Polish team of referees previously conducted matches involving both teams – France vs. Denmark in the group stage and Argentina vs. Australia in the round of 16. As Marciniak admitted, this made it easier in the final.
— Firstly, because both large teams were satisfied with our refereeing. There were actually very positive words. From the media and training staff. Secondly, you see these players later in the tunnel before the game, everyone smiling, high-fiving. There is simply a thread of understanding and trust that their matches have just been refereed and it turned out well – he admitted.
By the way, he recalled a popular joke in the circles of referees.
“We always make extra-time jokes because no referee likes to have them. For various reasons. In the refereeing environment, to put it jokingly, experienced referees do not allow extra time, because they do not pay us extra for it – Marciniak smiled.
However, the overtime of the World Cup final in Qatar will be very pleasant for him.
“We have received over a thousand congratulations from all over the world. A lot of people wished us the best, especially after what happened a year and a half ago. I mean my health problems, which caused me and my castmates to lose the European Championships – he reminded.
“But the most important thing for us is what Collin told us after the game. That he was my idol, and after this finale, we are his idols. This is remembered forever. We don’t have any complexes, but we’re from Poland. This is not the strongest football country, we know it well. Pierluigi once saw something in us, he pulled us up. The finale was terrible. And later, when everyone let go of emotions, he was very happy. For us, it is a double pride that he bet on us, the boys from Poland. And we succeeded … We repaid this debt – Marciniak added, moved.
As he admitted, after the match there was a nice situation in the locker room with … Zbigniew Boniek on the phone.
“We went back to the locker room, the champagne arrived. Collina came in, you could see from a distance that he was beaming, hugging me and then his friends. Then others joined us, Massimo Busacca (Head of the FIFA Refereeing Department – PAP). They asked if Zbigniew Boniek had called. I say no… So they told me to call quickly. After a while I gave them the phone, put it on speaker mode. And I say: “Hello, president, Pierluigi and Massimo are standing next to me.” They immediately took over the phone and started talking to President Boniek, I heard compliments on us. There was a very nice sentence, already famous in the media, that why FIFA invests so much in technology if it has referees like us – he mentioned.
However, he assured that he and his colleagues from the cast of judges “know their place in line”.
“The players are the stars, we will never match the best. Anyway, I really prefer it when there is silence around the judges, because I realize what will be required of us now. After such a good conduct of the World Cup final, if I make a small mistake somewhere, we will hear: “Look, the final of the World Cup was officiated, and now he can’t even see the car.” Mistakes will happen in judging. It’s not like we’ll always be in the shape we were in the final in Qatar.”
Among the many praises, there were a few less flattering reviews in some French media. When Marciniak said that he would probably not want to visit Paris in the future, he replied without thinking: “Why? On the contrary. The Olympic Games in 2024 are in Paris. We will be happy to go there…”
Creation date: today, 15:26
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