Chris Beath has been a Hyundai A-League referee since 2008 and a FIFA listed referee since 2011. In 2014 Chris had the honour of refereeing the inaugural Westfield FFA Cup Final between Adelaide United and Perth Glory.
In January 2015 Chris was one of 12 referees appointed to referee the AFC Asian Cup 2015. He shares some of his insights on being an elite referee in the Hyundai A-League.
How did you become involved in refereeing?
A referee course came up during my Senior School and I took the opportunity to have a better understanding of the game that I'd played for 10 years. I juggled playing and refereeing for a couple of years before choosing to focus on refereeing.
Can you describe a week in the life of a Hyundai A-League referee?
A normal week is pretty full on. We train every day in various settings including - high intensity sessions, speed and agility sessions, practical drills, recovery sessions, and strength and conditioning work. We have a regular teleconference on a Monday night to review the weekend's matches and discuss anything topical. We also spend a great deal of time reviewing our own performances as well as studying other referees from around the world. We receive our appointments early in the week to prepare accordingly. This all occurs while balancing a full time working career. The recent investment in full time refereeing is a really positive step forward and will bring referees in line with full time professional players.
What do you do to keep a balance between your personal, professional and refereeing life?
It is definitely challenging. I'm very aware that I am only able to do what I do with the strong support of my family, friends and work. And it becomes further challenging with our international appointments. The demands of the job are quite high so it's important that we still take some time away from the game to spend with our loved ones and also take time out for ourselves. A quick surf at my local break usually does the trick for me!
How do you keep focused during a match and not let emotions influence decisions?
We spend a good deal of time preparing mentally as well as physically. Personally, self-talk and cue words are important aspects of my game. I also place a huge emphasis on teamwork to ensure that the referee team works together as best they can. Emotions do run high during the game but we're prepared for it and know that it's our job to keep a clear head and concentrate on getting the decisions right.
In your opinion, what has been the biggest change in football in recent years?
Definitely the speed of the game. It's played at such a fast pace nowadays. Play can move from one end of the field to the other in seconds and we need to be right there with it! Our fitness and training has had to adjust accordingly.
What is the key to building positive relationships with players and coaches?
Respect and communication are absolutely key in my opinion. Understanding that we all have a job to do and by operating from a position of mutual respect with open communication then the relationships can only be enhanced.
What do you consider to be the most important characteristic of an elite referee?
I strongly believe that attitude is everything. There are technical aspects of the game that are absolutely vital such as interpretation and application of the laws, fitness, communication, positioning etc. etc., however, it all starts with approaching the role and the game with the right attitude.
What match or moment stands out as a highlight in your refereeing career?
My highlight to date has been refereeing at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. To debut at such an important international tournament in my home Country is something I'll never forget!