Ondřej Černý of the Czech Republic and Croatia's Saša Tomić will be the main two referees in Saturday's UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 final – but neither is a stranger to the occasion.
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Ondřej Černý of the Czech Republic and Croatia's Saša Tomić will be the main two referees in Saturday's UEFA Futsal EURO 2018 final between Portugal and Spain in Ljubljana – but neither is a stranger to the occasion.
The 42-year-old Tomić was a referee in the 2014 decider in Antwerp, while Černý, 38, was timekeeper in 2016 when Spain beat Russia to take the title in Belgrade, as well as having officiated at previous Iberian 'derbies' in the last two tournaments. Both looked back on their route to Saturday's big match.
"Belgium was my first EURO, and I was one of the youngest there, 34 years old, and it was excellent," Černý told UEFA.com. "I refereed five games, and then in Serbia, I took charge of the semi-final between Russia and Serbia. There were 11,000 people there, for me a record. If I am under pressure from the fans, it is better for me as a referee."
Tomić added: "My first time was also in Belgium – just to do that would have been enough. But I had a good tournament, two games in the group stage, then the semi-final between Russia and Spain – a top futsal game – and then the final. In Serbia, I refereed two group games and a semi-final."
Černý spoke about his rise to this level: "I have been a futsal referee for almost 20 years. I started in my city, Prague, when I was 18. Then, step by step, I moved up the divisions, and then to international level – from 2010. This is my third EURO, and my first final."
Neither is a full-time professional referee, and Tomić explained having to adapt to a more all-encompassing life while at a tournament camp: "I am an academic [for a day job], but to be here for 16 days, you must be prepared physically and psychologically. Every day you train, eat, the same routine, you must be prepared."
Unlike in football, the futsal refereeing teams are not all from one nation, but a mixture – like Černý, Tomić and Saturday's third referee Alessandro Malfer from Italy and FYR Macedonia timekeeper Josip Barton. "It's not like in football with trios from the same countries – here it is different," Černý explained. "You discover some different styles [of refereeing] – some small details."
Tomić added: "We are real friends, we have refereed together in early rounds, final tournaments and other competitions. Sometimes I whistle with Ondřej or one of the other guys – there is real friendship between all of us. We support each other."