Thank you South Africa

Well, it was July 11th and the next day I made my way home. We said thank you South Africa for the great show and for hosting us for 44 days or so. Our experiences were great and they will be remembered for years to come.

I want to thank all of those of you who have read the blog and hopefully you found it interesting. Thank you as well for all the support throughout my experience at the World Cup. It is great to be home and see my family and friends.

Life is a bit back to normal, if there is such a thing, but the memories and accomplishments will last forever and as many friends have told me - "Be proud, NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE AWAY WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!" Thank you to all! It has been amazing!!!!

The World Champions celebrating after the medal and trophy presentation were completed.

Our trio enjoying the second last day in South Africa and the closing ceremonies prior to the final game. We had such a great game that we were really having a great time being in the stadium and watching the final live. Not so sure we felt that great after it but Ce La Vie!!!

During the national anthem of Germany played prior to the kick off.

FIFA President Blatter and dignitaries greet all the players and referees prior to the game.

Our trio and the fourth official prior to the playing of the national anthems.

The referees lead out Uruguay and Germany during the walk out prior to the game.

Last player equipment check before walking out for the game.
Concluding our warm up prior to the game.

During our field inspection two hours before kick off.

Home Sweet Home

In the rush to get the story on the blog and post at least one photo, I did not get a chance to post additional photos so you had a better feel for the final days in South Africa. As such, here are more photos.

The net and soccer ball in the middle of the ocean in Port Elizabeth.

The view from our hotel in Port Elizabeth.

Our team prior to traveling to Port Elizabeth.

11th FIFA Tournament - The End

What a game!!!! Lots of goals, lots of action, great atmosphere, rain, tears of joy, fun, pride, excitement and a great performance by our team. We committed ourselves to finishing off this World Cup on a high note and as we, Armando and I, have always done we came through in our commitment to ourselves, our families and FIFA.
Armando and I started our FIFA careers together in 1993 in Japan with the U17 FIFA World Championship and after 18 years on the FIFA list and my 11th FIFA Tournament it is only fitting that we complete our FIFA Tournament career together at the 2010 FIFA World Cup. We have travelled a long journey to get to this point and although there was a moment of sadness to see it come to an end we have both accomplished things in refereeing that many in the world can only dream off and this is great satisfaction and joy to both of us. He has tied the record for most games officiated in World Cups with 8, the only referee from Mexico to have such a stellar career. I have done 14 World Cup games, the only referee/asssistant referee, to have done this in the world. In 2006, Armando and I were part of the first trio to ever do five World Cup games in a FIFA World Cup. So after all we have accomplished together and individually it was awesome to finish it together.
Our trio has truly enjoyed this game and as we promised ourselves we have done better in every game that we have had in this world cup. We have given it our all, have left it all on the field of play and we have made our ourselves, our families and friends proud. We leave happy and looking forward to seeing our families to enjoy what has been a great journey. We don't know what the future brings but what we know is that we have had beautiful experiences as FIFA World Cup officials.

One Sleep to Go

Well it is the night before my final WC match and we have arrived in Port Elizabeth. It is a very quiet town from what we have seen and we just returned from a late dinner. We will be getting a good night's rest and make final preparations for the game in the morning. Our host have treated us really well, as has been the case in every city that we have been to for our matches.

The congratulatory e-mails keep flying in so thank you, thank you, thank you! We appreciate your support and encouragement. Tomorrow history will be made and we will do our best to finish this World Cup on a high note.

I hope you really enjoy the match. When you see the walk out please know that I am thinking of all of you who have been so supportive - my family, friends and colleagues in different walks of life - you know who you are and I appreciate that support from the bottom of my heart.

It will be a very emotional moment that, as you can imagine, we will have to cover. But please know, the emotions are also much happiness, pride and joy - those closest to me will feel it too, have fun with it because I sure will, no matter what we will have fun!!! Thanks again.

Our Final Appointment

Today, July 8th, we were informed that our final match for the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be the 3rd/4th Place Final between Uruguay and Germany on Saturday, July 10th. I know that most of you already knew this information based on the large number of e-mails I received with congratulations but also indicating that we should have been appointed to the finals. Since it is difficult to respond to all your e-mails, I wanted to first thank you for your wonderful e-mails of congratulations and secondly to let you know that we appreciate your comments about the final. I know that some of you may find it difficult to comprehend and you are frustrated by the decision. However, please understand that we are fully aware of the complexities that go into the decisions and that it is totally out of our hands. Our trio is very aware of how well we have done and that the rest is not up to us. We were prepared for any decision that may be taken and that is the only way to prepare for the announcement of the officials to do the last two matches. We are now prepared for the game on Saturday and we will do our best to finish the journey in style. As you well know, Armando and I have accomplished things in our 18 year FIFA careers that only a few in the world have ever done and as such we are more than satisfied and happy. You should know we are pleased and proud of what we have accomplished. Our trio thanks our supporters and the people that have stood behind us for so long. Thank you!! Enjoy the game on Saturday, as we sure will make every effort to have a lot of fun!

Last Training Session

The group of referees, 10 trios, left in the tournament take one last photo at the completion of the last session with the players.

Assistant Referees going through some physical drills prior to evaluating incidents near the penalty area.

Offside drills are always part of the sessions and it is very helpful for preparing us for the games.

On Wednesday, July 7th we had our last training session with the players. The athletes that have been with us for the last month or so have been very instrumental in helping the referees in their training sessions. We have had lots of fun and made some good friends. They have worked extremely hard and all referees have appreciated the effort they have put in to be part of the program.
There will be some additional physical sessions in the next few days as referees must continue to stay sharp for the remaining games. We are almost at the end of this wonderful journey and soon we will have to depart. The referee family will always have this strong bond as a result of the last few years of sharing in the awesome experience that this hobby is for many of us. For the referees the FIFA 2010 WC will always be associated with great experiences, which we all know have had some down moments but many more exciting and successfull ones.
Now there is only a couple of games left and as I write this we don't yet know who will officiate them. No matter who gets the privilidge of finishing off the tournament we all wish the referees the best as we want to finish on a high note.

Semi Finals

Today, Monday July 5th, the second set of referees were released and the semi finals were appointed. There are now only 10 trios left for the remainder of the World Cup and many of our family members had to depart today with some leaving tomorrow. As mentioned in an earlier post this is not an easy moment for any of us, but it is our reality. There is a natural sadness for a bit that eventually has to be replaced by the ones that are staying with excitement about the possibilities of being part of the final four matches.

Our trio was not appointed to the semi finals that will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday. Of course that leaves three options for us, including not being appointed to any remaining games. Even though we all have dreams of doing well and going as far as possible in the World Cup, we have been very well prepared for anything that may or may not happen. We understand the complexities of being involved in World Cups as two in our trio have experienced this stage of the World Cup in 2006. We are going to continue to enjoy the experience of the World Cup and take home many fond memories.

We anticipate that the final two games will be appointed shortly after the last semi final on Wednesday. It could be as early as Thursday or may be even Friday. In the meantime, we will continue to get ready for anything and enjoy the journey. For two of us in our trio, this may well be the very last week of a FIFA Tournament and we will continue to enjoy it. How ironic, there are 11 players on the field of play and this is my 11th FIFA World Championship/Cup. Despite all the obstacles we have overcomed much in this wonderful journey. We have not finished playing the 90 or 120 minute game and we will maintain our focus to try and finish strong no matter what the finish may be.

Wonderful experiences

During our visit to the town on Sunday, we attended church in a town hall as they don't have a church, but are fundraising to build a church and classroom space. There were lots of children present and there was a lot of singing and dancing. The service lasted 3 hours and it was explained that it was very normal for church service to last as much and in some cases 4 hours. The referees and FIFA were able to donate clothing, sports equipment and other items for the members of the church.

We also visited a typical town in the Pretoria area. Here is view of some of the homes.

At the top of the mountain there was this huge fire pit where people would gather.

Here are some of the people that live in the Country Lodge in typical clothing.

We had the opportunity to visit a Country Lodge in a very large estate that had animals and also traditional South African dancers. We were able to learn a little bit about the way things were in previous generations in this great country.

Quarter Finals

The appointments of the quarter finals were handed out last night and our trio (or at least two of us) was appointed as Fourth Official and Reserved Assistant to the Parguay vs Spain match on Sunday a Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The referees for the match will be Carlos Batres' trio from CONCACAF. It will be our first time in this World Cup at Ellis Park although we are familiar with it as we were there last year for the Confederation Cup.

Of course, we must continue to "wait and see" what is in store for us in the next few days. We anticipate that additional referees will be released on July 5th. There are four matches to be assigned with two semis and the third place final and the final. We are ready to accept what ever is in store. We understand that we don't control the future and we know this is part of our game particularly in competitions of this magnitud.

On another note, last night we had a dinner with all the referees and instructors and it was a great time. There was a lot of joy and fun moments. There is so much stress associated with a competition of this magnitud that having some fun at times is quite essential to the well being of the entire group.

It is inronic that great moments are always followed by difficult ones. Today, a few of our family members left for home. Unless you have been a referee at the highest level and have spent over a month and many years of training with the whole group, you probably don't understand how difficult it is to say good-by. In some cases you may never see these family members again and in other cases for a very long time. It actually hurts to have them leave, even if we understand that this is part of the process. We wish all of them a safe journey home and the best of the world for them and their families.

Well, better get to the next meetings and to lift the spirits, as there is work yet to be done!