UEFA Regions' Cup final referee Artur Soares Dias is delighted to have a chance to test himself again in Saturday's game, telling UEFA.com: "When I feel pressure it feels good."
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Going from the top flight in Portugal with massive crowds to the more relaxed environment of the UEFA Regions' Cup might be something of a comedown, but for Artur Soares Dias it is a massive achievement to be taking charge of a European final – regardless how small.
"It is an honour," the 33-year-old told UEFA.com. "I am proud. This is a very good opportunity to try to learn and to prepare for the next opportunity. And we need to be well prepared to referee in this competition because it is quite different with not so much noise from the stands and a different type of player. Expect the unexpectable!"
Managing players on the pitch has natural parallels with Soares Dias's work as a human resources manager in a multinational firm. "As a human resources manager, you have to manage all the people in a company," he said. "Sometimes we have conflicts as you do with players. We have to improve communication, and on the field that also means good body language – for the players, for everyone. People need to know very clearly what the officials are doing."
The UEFA Regions' Cup is another step up the ladder for Soares Dias, who has already been refereeing all over Europe this season – and took charge for the final of the prestigious Toulon youth tournament. All that travel clearly broadens the mind. "If you do what you like to do, it's a privilege, so I am privileged so I do what I like to do in sport," he said. "Being here with all the other referees from different backgrounds gives you a different perspective. We learn a lot from each other, and it is the same back in Portugal when I work with Pedro Proença and Olegário Benquerença."
Pressure is a given in refereeing at every level, but while that might be a less appealing feature of the job for some, it is one of the biggest bonuses for Soares Dias, whose late father Manuel Soares Dias was also a man in black. "My father always told me: 'Don't be a referee - it's very difficult.' But when I came to watch him in games I saw the crowds screaming and disagreeing with the officials and all that pressure, and I really wanted it. It's strange but when I feel that pressure it feels good. I need a challenge. I want that challenge, and that's what refereeing is."