HE’S more than just big, strong and friendly.
Especially with his rippling biceps on display, he’s genuinely a solid football referee at the Qatar World Cup.
Meet 41-year-old Anderson Daronco, a Brazilian who has worked as a referee in the Campeonato Gaúcho, the Copa do Nordeste, Campeonato Brasileiro and the Copa do Brasil.
Few would ever dare to argue with him whenever he flashes the cards or blows the whistle as he’s truly authoritative on-the-field.
Netizens have commented on him on his hulk-of-a-size and one even wrote: “If he gave me a red card, I would say to him ‘sorry’ and offer to put it back in his pocket for him!”
His awesome personality makes a world of a difference as players and officials tend to look at him with awe – on size alone!
And Daronco and his refereeing colleagues do get “substantial compensation” for their work at the World Cup.
No official statements to refereeing salaries have been revealed but FIFA, it is learnt, pays each referee a basic pay of US$70,000. The assistant referees also pick up US$25,000 for their involvement.
These figures for the match-officials are said to be “at least three times higher” than the amount they get for working in the Champions League, Europe’s leading professional tournament.
Additionally, they are said to be paid US$3,000 for group stage games and if they referee in the knock-out stages, this will increase to US$10,000 and this is added to their contracted pay.
If they go all the way to the final, they could earn up to US$300,000 over the course of the tournament.
But as a former referee assessor, with more than two decades experience, I believe Daronco and company deserve the high remunerations because their decisions over 90 minutes, involving 22 millionaire players, can make-or-break professional careers.
Mind you, they cannot afford to make mistakes, which is close to impossible, and their close-call positionings to the ball matters in the teams believing their decisions.
Likewise with Daronco’s awesome physical strength, I dare say it helps him instantly garner the respect of everyone in the field of play.
Back home, I was told he hogs the headlines too, with his commanding personality. In August 2020, he reportedly became the first referee in Brazil to halt a match because of homophobic chanting.
The incident, not new in Brazilian football, took place in a game between arch-rivals Vasco de Gama and Sao Paulo. And Daronco intervened, stopping play and instructing home manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo to address the crowd.
Big salutes to Daronco and his contemporaries as their excellent physical builds matter every time they step into the field-of-play.
* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor.
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