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Thursday, December 10, 2015

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Paul Rejer, Professional Referee Organization (PRO) Training & Development Manager Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Paul Rejer

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Paul Rejer began refereeing in 1978 in leagues local to his home, becoming an assistant referee in the Football League in 1986. In 1992, he progressed to the Premier League list of assistants, the first season of the league and also the FIFA Linesmen’s List, the very first year of FIFA Linesman. He was elevated to the Referee's List in the Football League in 1994. He was fortunate to have officiated as a Referee or Assistant Referee at all 92 professional clubs in England.

His first match in charge after his promotion in 1994 was the Football League Third Division (now League Two) encounter between Barnet and Scunthorpe United at Underhill Stadium on 13 August 1994, which finished 2-1 to the away side.

He was Linesman in the FA Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium in 1994 between Manchester United and Chelsea (4-0). His other appearance at Wembley was in theFA Charity Shield in 1991 between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur F.C.. He was Linesman in the UEFA Cup Final in 1992 between Torino and Ajax (2-2). He also officiated in three World Cup qualifying games and three UEFA Champions League games. He officiated in two FA Cup Semi Finals 1991, Nottingham Forest v West Ham United, 1993 Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and two League Cup Semi Finals. In 1997 he refereed an FA Trophy semi-final and two FA Vase Semi Finals, in 1996, Mangotsfield United v Clitheroe and Tiverton Town and Taunton Town in 1999.  Other significant games he has been involved in during his career: 2 League Cup Semi Finals – 4th Official, 1996 League One Play Off Semi Final – 4th Official, 1998 League One Play Off Semi Final – 4th Official. 1994 Staffordshire County FA Senior Cup Final - Referee LDV Vans Final, 2003– 4th Official.

In August 2003, he retired from active refereeing and became an assessor on the football league. Then in 2004, he was appointed Select Group Assistant Referee Coach, coaching the Assistant Referees who operate on the Premier League. At the same time he became an assessor on the Premier League. In 2007, he was promoted to Select Group Assistant referee Manager. The Assistant Referees Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey, who were the World Cup Assistant Referees in South Africa and the European Champions League final, both in 2010 gave him ‘significant’ credit for their development. Howard Webb also made reference to the help Paul had been to him personally.

In November 2012, he was appointed Training and Development Manager for the Professional Referees Organization[1] (PRO), responsible for all the match officials that operate in Major League Soccer (MLS), in the USA based in New York City.

He is an expert in the Laws of the Game, particularly Law 11 (Offside), and is consulted whenever there are law changes to deliver interpretations.

Rejer is world-renowned as a Referee coach; he is in great demand in World Soccer. He has delivered “Premier Skills” courses with Keith Hackett[2] on behalf of the English Premier League and the British Council, in Yaounde, Cameroon, February 2011, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 2011, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, July 2011, Nairobi, Kenya, November, 2011, Logos, Nigeria, March 2012. He has also appeared at referees conferences as a principal speaker at Dublin, Republic Of Ireland Referees Annual Conference, February 2010, St. Andrews, Scotland, Scottish FA referees annual conference, May, 2009. FA of Wales annual conference at Newtown, Wales, January 2009 and 2010. Soccer Nation Referees Conference and exhibition, Los Angeles, February 2013 and 2014. We are so pleased to present Paul Rejer as our latest Mover and Shaker. Peachy Deegan interviewed Paul for Whom You Know, and was happy to sit next to him in the NYCFC press box this year at Yankee Stadium.

Peachy Deegan: What do you love about being an official?
Paul Rejer: I
 love the game so being involved on the field is the next best thing to playing the game.

What are the biggest misunderstandings the public has with soccer officiating?
They don’t realize the professionalism and dedication that goes into it; they think that officials just turn up on the day without preparation.

What are the biggest misunderstandings the professional footballers/soccer players have with the rules in place?
Handball is the biggest misconception; the law states that a handball offense has to be deliberate. The ball hitting the arm is not an offense.

When there is a play that is controversial how is it handled by the officials?
Any controversial play is discussed and analyzed by the official, his colleagues and PRO staff at our training camp. If the official has made an error they are extremely disappointed, which is good as it demonstrates that they care and determined to get it right next time. 

What do you think of instant replay and how does that affect determining calls?
We are currently experimenting with instant replay and in my opinion anything to assist the referee has to be positive. It would have to determine factual situations and not personal opinion.

What games have been the most influential in your career and why?
UEFA Cup final (Torino v Ajax 1992): this was the first time in the World that dedicted Assistant Referees were used on a major cup final. Prior to this all the officials were referees. It proved to be the way forward.
FA Cup Final (Chelsea v Manchester United 1994): once you have officiated in the English Cup Final you are part of history as an official. It an unofficial “Hall of Fame”.

What games would you like to officiate?
I am retired but I would have loved to have officiated in the MLS; they can be very challenging games and it would be a great test for me.

What should Americans know about soccer that they don't know yet?
Most Americans only appreciate American sports, yet it is the most popular game in the World; when I talk to Americans into soccer it is as though they have “seen the light”!

What do you think of women's soccer versus men's soccer both in America and on an international basis?
As USA women are the best in the World, fans here are more aware of it, internationally, certainly in England it is extremely overshadowed by the men’s game.

What made you want to transition to the MLS?
Having been part of the professional game in England for 26 years I wanted the challenge of plying my trade in such a growing league in an amazing country.

What makes England the best soccer country?
Your words, not mine, I would agree that the Premier League is the most watched league in the World. What makes England unique is the strength in depth with 5 professional leagues and 10 semi-professional leagues. A local village can start a team and due to the “pyramid system” can dream one day to progress to the EPL.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
It would be an insult to so many people to name one person. Any successful person takes influences from numerous people.

What are you proudest of and why?
I have three children and they are the most balanced and popular people I know. I am proud that I have played a small part in their development. I am also proud that I played a small part in the guys I was coaching in 2012 being selected for the World Cup Final.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
My main ambition is to coach/manage a North American referee crew to a World Cup Final, having experienced it with an English crew in 2010.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
The best honors and awards a referee receives are the prestigious games he gets assigned to and the UEFA Cup Final, FA Cup Final, FA Charity Shield are the best honors and awards you can receive.

What one word best describes you and why?
Respectful as I always try and show respect and expect it in return.

What do you take your sense of identity from?
My upbringing in The Black Country in England, hardly picturesque but a very proud industrial working class district filled with hard working good honest people.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
Bryant Park 
And England? 
The Hawthorns (West Bromwich Albion FC)

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
Lord & Taylor 
And England? 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
Donald Trump as I would always want to hire successful people who let you know exactly what is on their mind. 

What is your favorite drink? 
English breakfast tea (Tetley’s)

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
 I had a 20 minute conversation with a beautiful interesting woman and it was only the following day when I discovered it was Demi Moore.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
Bryant Park Bar and Grill 
And England? 
San Carlo, Birmingham

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? And England? 
Unfortunately have had no time to read any literature as all my time is spent engrossed in Soccer refereeing.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
 Lionel Messi, the best player in the World to play the game the way he plays rather than the basic manner in which I played.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
Grand Central Station as it’s the first place I arrived at in NYC; it's iconic and original. When I walk there on my way to the office I still pinch myself and feel as though “I have arrived”! 
And England? 
Wembley Stadium, the home of English football. I had to honor of officiating there 3 times and attended for the first time when my team West Brom won the FA Cup in 1968 when I was 14. Unfortunately I am still waiting for them to win a trophy again.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Jogging in Central Park 
And England? 
Finishing 3rd out of 200 competitors in a half marathon race (many years ago).

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Hang out in Bryant Park, an under rated beautiful park in all seasons. 
And England? 
Stroll in my favorite quaint village of Chaddesley Corbett, with a church, a post office, a butcher's shop and two pubs and finish the stroll with a pint of “Bathams” Beer in the Swan pub.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
Paul McCartney as he has always been my favorite musician, I grew up with the Beatles music in the 60’s. He is a genius and I would love to discuss with him how he wrote such amazing songs.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
I love to sing and I am a regular at Radiostar Karaoke in 35th Street after work. I never dreamed I would sing in NYC! 
 And England? 
Watching a Paul McCartney concert.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
With my children I have left the world 3 wonderful and amazing human beings.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
Underrated Bryant Park 
Overrated the Subway. I have lived here over three years and still can’t navigate it. 
And England? 
Underrated Birmingham, the vast majority of visitors to England visit London. Birmingham is only 100 miles away from London and you can get a direct flight these from JFK. It is a vibrant historical city. 
Overrated Stonehenge, people travel for miles to see a few old stones sticking out of the ground!

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
MLS Peachy of course, Take a Trip to London and Take a Trip to England.  Love reading the Frank Lampard interviews as he is a great player and a fellow Englishman in New York. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
During the Soccer season I write a weekly “Play of the Week” on our website Please check it out.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?

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