Italian official Alessandro Malfer has been selected to lead the refereeing team for the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 final and is relishing the atmosphere in Belgrade.
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Italian match official Alessandro Malfer will lead the refereeing team for the UEFA Futsal EURO 2016 final on Saturday and is relishing the atmosphere in Belgrade.
The 41-year-old, who is in his second UEFA Futsal EURO and was also on the refereeing team for the 2015 UEFA Futsal Cup final in Lisbon, is joined for the game between Russia and Spain by Romania's Bogdan Sorescu, Portuguese third official Eduardo Fernandes Coelho and Czech timekeeper Ondřej Černý. Malfer spoke to UEFA.com about the final and his route to futsal refereeing.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to referee the final?
Alessandro Malfer: It is a real honour to represent all my friends the UEFA referees, my friends and colleagues in this tournament, and also to represent all Italian referees. They support me with all the work we do throughout the season.
UEFA.com: How have you enjoyed the tournament and the atmosphere in the arena?
Malfer: For me, it was not a surprise as I had previous experience in Belgium [in 2014] but the atmosphere in the arena with the Serbian fans is something special. I was fortunate to referee the opening match [between Serbia and Slovenia] and the atmosphere was amazing.
UEFA.com: How has the atmosphere been within the referees' unit?
Malfer: In futsal we are real friends. There is a real brotherhood between us. We have had experiences together in other tournaments and every time we meet up it feels like home.
UEFA.com: Is it good for you to be able to follow in the footsteps of UEFA instructor Massimo Cumbo as an Italian futsal referee in the biggest games?
Malfer: Massimo has been a guide to me. He is also my boss in Italy and we are working hard to create a group of Italian referees that can set the very highest standards for every competition, domestic and international. Every referee in Serie A1 is at the same level. This is because of our teacher and our association.
UEFA.com: How did you become a futsal referee?
Malfer: Some friends said to me: "Why don't you try to be a referee, it's another way to enjoy football?" I was a basketball player so when I had to decide between football and futsal I chose futsal because of the pitch, because of the hall, because of the same atmosphere. Maybe I chose right!
UEFA.com: You are with referees from many countries, some from smaller leagues; is it interesting to be with that selection of people?
Malfer: It feels different from how the situation used to be years ago. Now we are a real group and we work hard in the courses and the meetings with our instructors – this means we grow together. Watching what we have done right, or wrong, during the tournament, we are able to grow more and more, and every time you go onto the pitch to referee it doesn't matter which referees you have in your team, you referee as a 'mirror' [always to the same standard] – that is the most important thing.