Refereeing team savouring time in Norway sun

Three of the 16-strong refereeing team in Norway take a break from their cycle of training, matches and recovery to discuss the experience of being at a final tournament.

From left to right: Rúna Stefánsdóttir, Zuzana Kovácová and Anastasia Pustovoitova
From left to right: Rúna Stefánsdóttir, Zuzana Kovácová and Anastasia Pustovoitova ©Sportsfile

Three women, all with a point to prove. Silverware awaits the winners of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, yet match officials Zuzana Kováčová, Anastasia Pustovoitova and Rúna Stefánsdóttir are also here to show what they can do.

"It's wonderful to be here, a huge compliment to us," Russian referee Pustovoitova says. "It's a total privilege to be at any final tournament as you're truly in an elite group of referees. It's also a wonderful learning experience for us and we want to develop in any way possible."

Following over a week of continual preparation, matches and daily training, the trio are relishing the stage. "People think that because the World Cup is over, football has finished for the summer," Pustovoitova laughs. "But we're still out here in Norway, doing the serious stuff!"

For Icelandic assistant Stefánsdóttir, it is a new experience. "This is my first final tournament and it's a lovely thing for me to do. It's not only an endorsement of your ability as a referee to be selected for a final tournament, but also a great chance to make new friends and develop your skills.

"It's a very relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. We have a lot of free time which we spend with one another, so we bond. If we want to go for a walk or to see the city of Oslo, we can take a trip together and it's nice – there's no pressure or exhaustion, except the games!


Common among the 16-strong refereeing team is how impressed they have been with the professionalism and commitment shown by the teams. Pustovoitova, who had the tricky task of refereeing the Republic of Ireland's energetic 2-1 win against England on Friday, says: "No matter whether the players are on paid contracts or not, they are extremely professional in their approach. They demonstrate fair play in a fantastic way and we have all seen how much they want to succeed."

Kováčová agrees: "I refereed the 0-0 draw between Norway and the Netherlands in the first game, and the behaviour is very good. The girls are genuinely very happy to be here too. You can see that in their faces and, regardless of a result, you know the players are learning and benefiting from the experience."

The same could be said of the officials here in Norway. "All tournaments are beneficial to us, and we are working here with the best teams in Europe at their level," Kováčová adds. "It's a very different experience to be in a final tournament compared to our work as referees in our own countries and leagues. We are always learning too."

2014 final tournament refereeing team
Sofia Karagiorgi (CYP), Zuzana Kováčová (SVK), Marija Kurtes (GER), Anastasia Pustovoitova (RUS), Karolina Radzik-Johan (POL), Séverine Zinck (FRA).
Assistant referees: Mathilde Abildgaard (DEN), Olga Almeida (POR), Alena Karas (BLR), Ekaterina Kurochkina (RUS), May Moalem (ISR), Vana Sashchyna (UKR), Petra Simmerová (CZE), Rúna Stefánsdóttir (ISL).
Fourth officials
: Monica Larsen (NOR), Marte Soro (NOR).