Ivana Martinčić, once a player in the Croatian women's top division, speaks about her pride at being selected to referee the 2018 Women's U19 EURO final.
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Croatia's Ivana Martinčić is the referee for Monday's UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship final between Germany and Spain in Switzerland, and will have an important insight into what the players are experiencing in Biel/Bienne.
Martinčić, who turned 33 on Saturday, was a player in the Croatian top division a decade ago before taking up officiating. Now, as well as refereeing FIFA Women's World Cup and UEFA Women's EURO qualifiers, as well as UEFA Women's Champions League knockout games, Martinčić also takes charge of matches in the Croatian men's second division.
UEFA.com spoke to Martinčić at the Women's U19 EURO referees' base in Lenzburg, where she discussed her experience in Switzerland, and mused on what insight she receives as an ex-player.
UEFA.com: What does it mean to you to referee the final?
Ivana Martinčić: It means a lot. For me personally, it's that UEFA gives me such a big opportunity to be part of this competition, and it's the biggest thing in my life that I have the final here in Switzerland. It's very nice to be part of the final.
UEFA.com: How have you enjoyed the final tournament?
Martinčić: It's not my first, I was at the Women's Under-17s in Iceland in 2015, now I’m here. In Switzerland it’s perfect, the weather is super, the company here, the girls are very nice. We have enjoyed it here.
UEFA.com: What's it like to be in an international team with assistants and fourth officials from other countries?
Martinčić: It's new, but we adapt to each other. At the start, you don’t know each other, but you do your best to handle the game together and, in the end, it's perfect because we speak, we are like one team in the end. You have an opportunity to see cultures of other referees, find out something new from another referee, it's a good experience.
What has it been like to be together full-time in the tournament camp for two weeks?
Martinčić: The two weeks have passed very quickly! It’s been good to have this team, and UEFA have given us the final. We hope we will give the best of ourselves.
UEFA.com: How do you enjoy refereeing men's and women's football?
Martinčić: I’m very proud that I can be in the men's second division in Croatia, maybe in the future in the top division, but also here in UEFA, and I hope I will get to be a top [women's] referee. I am in the Category One [behind only Elite], but you need luck to not have injuries.
UEFA.com: How did you switch from playing to refereeing?
Martinčić: When I was 15, my father [a regional referee observer in Croatia] asked me if I wanted to be a referee, but I wanted to stay playing football. But when I was around 22, I decided to be a referee, and then I had a FIFA badge in 2013.
UEFA.com: Does having been a player give you extra insight as a referee?
Martinčić: At the start it is easier, as you know how players adapt to the game, how they think. So maybe we develop faster than other referees, maybe they need more time to learn that. But in the end, you have the same feeling and the same pressure, if you were a player or not. [If any players asked me about refereeing], I'd say: "Try, and you will see. For me it is a good job - give it a chance."
FULL REFEREEING TEAM FOR THE FINAL
Referee: Ivana Martinčić (CRO)
Assistant referees: Jenni Mahlamäki (FIN), Nikola Šafránková (CZE)
Fourth official: Tess Olofsson (SWE)