|FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor analyses data from the Observer software at a referee meeting in Bydgoszcz, Poland during EuroBasket Women|
Whereas all the teams at EuroBasket Women 2011 vie for honours and media attention there is a certain group of people at the tournament who would accept a simple handshake as a reward for their efforts - the game officials.
The routine of an international referee before and during an international tournament has nowadays become a standard.
Under the watchful eye of FIBA Europe Head of Operations Miguel Betancor the referees had been preparing hard for this Championship in a pre-tournament camp in the Polish capital Warsaw.
And during the event they are assessed on a daily basis by the Referee Instructors and the Observers, a group of senior officials who follow the referees' performance on the court and provide feedback and advice during the daily briefings, including video assessment of disputed calls, using the Digital ScoreSheet technology.
This year the group of Programme guests include veteran NBA referee Tommy Nunez, who was, admittedly, pleasantly surprised by the standard of refereeing at the event so far.
"The FIBA Europe referees are outstanding," comments Nunez. "They get great training, many clinics, they go all over Europe... It is pretty difficult [to maintain such high level] when you deal with over 50 countries."
|Referee instructor and former NBA referee Tommy Nunez is impressed by the Observer software and the level of officiating in Europe|
FIBA Europe introduced Observers to its tournaments during EuroBasket 2005 in Serbia and since then a combination of instructors and observers have been present at every youth and senior tournament.
"The Observers' programme is one of our most successful projects," says Betancor. "The game doesn't stop after the final buzzer, it continues in the meeting room where we analyse everything positive or even negative that took place. We then use the acquired knowledge in future games."
Betancor is quick to admit that wrong calls are sometimes made and they will always be part of the game.
The EuroBasket Women 2011 referees like all the officials at every FIBA Europe event have a double mission: to officiate correctly and protect the image of the game.
"If one of the referees makes a mistake it is always an honest mistake," adds Betancor.
"We at FIBA Europe know that it is the players who should decide a basketball game, not the officials and we make absolutely certain that this is always the case."