- Gionni Matticoli is one of the most experienced beach soccer referees
- Issam Bousbih is refereeing his first Beach Soccer World Cup
- Both men give FIFA.com their perspective on an enthralling tournament
Beach Soccer is one of the most fast-paced sports out there. As a spectator, it is hard enough keeping up with all the action and the constant transitional nature of the game.
Can you imagine having to referee these matches? Step up Gionni Matticoli and Issam Bousbih. Matticoli is one of the most experienced referees at Bahamas 2017, while Bousbih is taking part in his first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. After they were able to catch their breath and cool down, both men took time out to speak with FIFA.com moments after the Switzerland-Iran quarter-final at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017.
"There's been great fair play on display at this tournament," said Matticoli. "We watch video every day for every action. I refereed three matches and gave no yellow or red cards! The players have come with a good mentality."
The football community is often tempted to compare 11-a-side football with beach soccer, but Matticoli stresses that they are completely different sports. And hailing from Italy, one of the hotbeds of beach soccer, he has an experienced perspective on the subject.
"You really need to know the rules! You could have a team leading in the last minute, but then in the last ten seconds, the lead can change quickly, because it's very fast. There a lot of different situations, so it's very important to know the rules. It's also important to be in good condition.
"You also need to work well with the other referees in your team. It's important because one referee watches one part of the pitch and the other referee the other zone, so teamwork is very important. You can be mistake-free for most of the game, but if you make one mistake, you could cost a team the game."
One of Matticoli's team-mates for his most recent match was Bousbih, who hails from Tunisia. "Amazing, amazing, amazing," said Bousbih, when reflecting on the experience so far. "Everyone's been very supportive. We are a united team. You have to be in good shape, because it's a fast sport, because otherwise you'd struggle to catch everything!"