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NorCal Hosts European Referees

At the recent Davis Legacy College Showcase, participants were greeted with a surprise on the field: the inclusion of five European referees.

NorCal Premier Soccer Referee Coordinator Moe Shafai was responsible for bringing referees Ariya Neshaie, Marc Germann, Hasibullah Helmand, Ryan Thomas, and Danielle Curcio stateside, believing that NorCal’s finest could learn from seasoned European professionals and vice versa.

“There’s a different style of playing in Europe, and it’s also the same way with officiating,” said Shafai. “They’re seeing some different approaches — fresh ideas — which is good.”

According to Shafai, some aspects of the European referees were better, while the NorCal officials excelled in others.

“Positioning wise, that’s the key element, I was impressed with how they kept up with the game,” Shafai said. “One referee was making sure that he was in the drop zone and not interfering with play. The key element is constant movement…but also he had wrong positioning on a penalty kick. When I told him the lightbulb went off.”

As part of the continued development of referees, Shafai is currently pondering taking his officials to Europe on a trip as well as bring over European referees on a more regular basis.

“What we’re trying to do is expand our horizon and look into different possibilities,” Shafai said. “Having European referees come to our tournaments and also NorCal tournaments is one of my goals. They’re doing that with Dallas Cup and Surf Cup. The fact that Northern California is now on their radar is something I’m happy about.”