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JFA Website Special

Kamikawa awaits his second World Cup

Japan's top referee Toru Kamikawa has been named as one of the 23 referees who will officiate in the FIFA World Cup in Germany this summer, making his second consecutive appearance in the quadrennial tournament. Kamikawa, who will turn 43 the day before the tournament kicks off, said he "is excited and relieved" with the news of his selection earlier in April. The selection, he said, has brought him confidence and a responsibility to his service. Known for his strong, consistent and clear judging, Kamikawa is ready to help make the World Cup successful with his performance. Kamikawa talked to the JFA Web in Tokyo.

Q: You said you felt relieved on hearing the news; had you felt under pressure?

I knew I had done all I could have done. But at the same time I was hoping the result would be positive so that it would be a reward for all the hard work and effort the JFA have made, such as launching our professional referee system -- Special Referee -- in 2002.

Q: In the last tournament in 2002, it was soon after you started your career as a Special Referee.

This time you have had four years as an SR. What has this four-year difference made to your refereeing?
After becoming an SR, I was able to fully concentrate my thoughts on refereeing and it gave me more time to look back over my refereeing and prepare for future games. Also, under the SR system, I learned various things in detail, such as game-control from our instructor Mr. (Leslie) Mottram, who gave us advice from his own experience. The last four years meant a lot to me.
Evaluating yourself is rather hard, but I think I have improved my game such as predicting what may happen in a game and trying to prevent that from happening or re-occurring. I don't often have trouble or flare-ups in my games and the number of cards I've issued has gone down. I think that's good and you cannot do that without help from the players.

Q: What did you think on being selected as one of the 23?

I was surprised because I believed there would be 30 in all. But I also felt that my efforts as a referee have won recognition and have been trusted by FIFA. That has brought me confidence.

Q: What made you switch from playing to refereeing?

In 1991, when I was thinking of hanging up my boots, my club asked me if I would be interested in becoming a referee. The J. League was scheduled to start in two years time and Japanese football was working hard to raise the standard of refereeing and bring up future referees. So, I grabbed the chance.
After making the decision, I enjoyed my new challenge and it was fun. I found something new every single day and every single match. Although I was a player in what was then the top league in the country, I suffered pulled muscles in my legs during games as I started learning refereeing! You have to run backward more often, and your body movements are so different from those you perform as a player.

Q: Has your experience as a player been a help?

Early on, I suppose so, probably in positioning and making moves. But having worked as a referee for about 15 years, it's hard to tell how it affects my game these days. Obviously, my experience over those 15 years helps me more.

Q: Do you think football has changed over those 15 years?

Yes, in various ways. In the Laws of the Game, the backpass rule changed on passing the ball to the keeper and this increased the speed of the game. Also, the offside rules have changed. We also have the multi-ball system now. Players have become physically stronger than before, and playing systems and tactics have changed so much as well.
When (Philippe) Troussier was Japan coach, many of the J. League clubs had a tendency to play in a similar system to his style, with all their players playing in a 20-meter area, which gave us referees a hard time.
Now every team has their own characteristics and personalities. I don't know if that has something to do with the football of Japan coach Zico, but I think coach Zico regards players' characteristics as important.

Q: What are the principles of your refereeing? Q: What are the principles of your refereeing?

I want to be fair to what happens in the game, without bringing in my personal feelings. A referee's job is to control the game and to create an environment in which players can focus on their game and play safely. Besides that, I don't want to cheat myself and regret the calls I make.

Q: Which game do you remember most?

Well, ... the ones I failed.

Q: Which game is your favorite?

The J. League game between Shimizu S-Pulse and Gamba Osaka at Nihondaira, Shizuoka, on April 1, the day after the World Cup referee announcement came. We had only 12 fouls from both teams over 90 minutes, which was the lowest I've had probably, and no major incidents. The game kept running and that made me exhausted. But I'm sure the spectators enjoyed it a lot. We may call it an ideal game.
On top of that, one of the Gamba players, Akihiro Ienaga, got the message I was conveying. I gave him a yellow card for simulation earlier in the game, but later in the same area on the pitch, he beat his marker and scored a goal, without falling down. I was so pleased with his attitude.

Q: What would you like to do in this World Cup?

I'd like to officiate in a game with higher pressure in the knock-out stage. I also would like to take command in the refereeing team so that we, the referees, can get a good outcome in the tournament.

Q: When you say a game with higher pressure, do you mean the final?

Yes, that would be nice. I know the possibility is limited but I want to set my dreams high. It's important to keep that positive attitude and that helps us take a step forward. Then, some day, a Japanese referee will win faith from FIFA to be given the opportunity to officiate in the final of the World Cup.

Profile: Toru Kamikawa

Born in Kagoshima on June 8, 1963, graduated from Tokai University, played for the Japan Youth team in 1981, for Fujita in the Japan Soccer League (the predecessor of Bellmare Hiratsuka in the J. League), retired from the game in 1991. Received the JFA's top referee license in 1994, became international referee in 1998 and SR professional referee in 2002, officiated in 77 international matches, including the 2002 World Cup, the 2004 AFC Asian Cup, the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, and the 2005 FIFA Club World Championship Toyota Cup in Japan. Had officiated in 216 matches in the J. League by the end of March 2006. Honoured with AFC Referee of the Year in 2002, J. League Referee of the Year in 2003.