March 30, 2020
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K. Sankar

The only Indian to officiate in World Cup football on his experiences and controversies

K. Sankar
K. Sankar
How did it feel to achieve what no Indian has done?
If it's a player's dream to play for the nation, a referee's is to be at the World Cup.

You've also been to the Olympics.
Yes, Sydney. By the 1995 SAARC games, I was on FIFA's international panel of referees. In 1999 I was adjudged the Best Asian Assistant Referee.

But why only as an asst referee?
Given my height, 5'3" feet, I would never have made it as a main referee. I worked within my limitations.

How many matches did you referee in Korea-Japan 2002?
Three. Croatia-Mexico, Belgium-Tunisia and Belgium-Russia.

Were any of your decisions faulted?
Not a single one of them.

What's your take on the controversies around the referees?
I guess since major European nations were humbled, they are finding excuses.

We see too many white referees. Racism here too?
The European referees mind the best leagues in the game. Asians don't get such opportunities. Besides, appearance matters. A referee must be able to command the players' respect.

What ails Indian football?
We must identify and groom 10- to 13-year-olds with scientific training and a special diet.

Too much of cricket around?
Cricket has killed every other sport. It's a national shame. A Ranji player gets a better job than an international referee. When Kumble performs, the PM and president call him. But nobody cares for someone like me.

Do we see you in 2006 too?
FIFA's cut-off age for referees is 45. I am only 40.

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