Alan Wiley: Refereeing standards have been very good at ISL 2015
Alan Wiley is no stranger to fans crazy about the Premier League. He is a former referee who officiated in several important matches involving teams like Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal with distinction. He retired in 2010 and since then has been training budding referees. The 55-year-old Englishman, now a Referee Coach at the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL], is in India to oversee the development of referees in Hero Indian Super League Season 2. In an exclusive interview to indiansuperleague.com, Wiley spoke on a variety of subjects, from the ISL to refereeing standards in India and his picks for the best players he has seen on the football pitch. Here are the excerpts.
How has your the Indian Super League experience been?
The Indian Super League I think has captured the imagination of the Indian people. The attendances has been very good, the football has been very entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. I can only see the ISL growing on from here.
What do you think about the refereeing standards in the league?
I think the standards have been very good. In all walks of life, be it players or referees, there is always room for improvement. Players like to improve, referees like to improve. And hopefully by giving feedback to the AIFF [All India Football Federation] and the individual referees I can improve the standards even more.
What would you suggest to develop a good refereeing framework in India?
For the refereeing framework there is a very good foundation there. I would probably suggest to introduce referee coaches and maybe get the professional referees together a bit more often, to get them to talk about the incidents within the Indian Super League and then talk about incidents in different games so that every referee can learn from one particular incident.
"From the day you start refereeing, they expect you to be perfect and improve with every game."Alan Wiley
The pressure on referees is always to get their decisions right. Does the pressure affect the decision-making on the pitch?
From the day you start refereeing, they expect you to be perfect and improve with every game. Because there is an expectation that every decision you make has to be correct, and that expectation, unfortunately is impossible to achieve. If a forward shoots at the goal, he'll not score every time, when a goalkeeper makes a save, he'll not save every shot. The referees can only do the best they can to their ability. What we try to do is to get them to work on their positioning, to get them to recognise fouls so that they're in the best position to recognise what's there.
Have you managed to take in the unique stadium atmosphere generated in ISL matches?
The atmosphere has been fantastic. I was in Kochi for the Kerala [Blasters FC] game and I said to the match officials that ‘while we have the same number of spectators in the crowd [in England], the intensity of the crowd is nothing like this’. The intensity at Kerala was massive, the noise, the intense atmosphere, we don't get that in England. Everybody, including the players were under immense pressure, and even here in the north-east, there will be 30,000 people, there will be a fantastic atmosphere. And I'm sure that this kind of atmosphere gives a rush of adrenalin to the players and the match officials and that makes them perform even better. The atmosphere of the crowd is just brilliant.
One cherished moment from the ISL that you'd take home with you?
One cherished moment will be that everybody wants to succeed. I think it's succeeding and I think it has captured the imagination of the people. I have been really surprised by the reaction of the fans. How keen they are, how enthusiastic they are and they have supported their teams really well. That has been my main moment.
You officiated in the Premier League for 11 years, from 1999 to 2010. Who is the best player you have seen on the pitch?
I probably have to name three players. One from the earlier times in my career, an Italian player called Gianfranco Zola, he played for Chelsea, fantastic player and a fantastic gentleman, from then on probably forwards get more recognised than defenders so I would go for Thierry Henry at Arsenal and Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. They were outstanding players.