Laying down the law is nothing new for UEFA Regions' Cup final referee Ken Henry Johnsen; the 35-year-old Norwegian combines his work as an official with a job as a police sergeant.
"Thrilled and honoured" to be selected from the panel of six arbiters out here in Portugal to oversee Tuesday's final between hosts Braga and Leinster & Munster, Johnsen oozes quiet authority, and believes his police training has helped him as a referee. "The communication aspect and dealing with people in stressful situations − there are a lot of similar psychological mechanisms that come into play," he told UEFA.com.
Fluent in English, as all international referees are, Johnsen has also come to the finals with a decent command of Portuguese, and should be in a good position to get the message across to both sides in Barcelos. "If you can communicate just a few footballing phrases you can start to have a relationship based on trust," he explained. "If players trust you, they know they can feel safe on the field, but they also know if they start acting up you will be on to them."
A former goalkeeper, Johnsen was encouraged to move into refereeing and found that it suited him well. "I started in 1993 and then did it on and off for a few years while doing military service and studying, but I really decided in 2000 to take it seriously," he said. "I got to learn football from a whole different perspective."
Johnsen officiates at Under-21 and youth level in UEFA competitions, as well as in the Norwegian top division, and has also gained useful experience as a fourth official and additional assistant referee at UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches. The learning curve has continued here. "You make mistakes in a game, just like the players do, but you can learn from that," he said.
"Success means two things; protecting the players and protecting the game," he added, as he enunciated his refereeing philosophy, concluding sagely: "You have 17 rules in the game and the 18th is common sense."
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