With next year’s International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cup in Brazil in his sights, Joe Fletcher hopes to score big at the global Club World Cup in Morocco that kicked off two days ago.
Under consideration for the World Cup list, the Canadian assistant referee is aware that this is more than just another tournament.
“It’s an audition,” he concedes.
With just eight games to be played and five squads of referees at the tournament, Fetcher and his crew may get just one opportunity to make an impression.
It’s a challenge that the only Canadian official at the seven-team Club World Cup embraces.
“There is just something about the game that drives me,” said Fletcher who officiated at two games in last year’s London Olympics. “I am a goal-oriented type of person. I know what I am up against and even though perfection doesn’t exist, I desire excellence.”
While the referee makes the majority of the calls, his assistants help control the game.
“I am there to assist whenever the referee’s view is blocked and ensure that the correct decisions are made,” Fletcher said. “After all, we succeed and fail as a team.”
Fletcher and his crew will be exposed to the new goal-line technology that will be used for the first time in Africa.
GoalControl, a German-based company, will provide the camera-oriented goal-line technology system that will make a decision in less than a second and transmit a signal to the referee’s watch which will vibrate if a goal is scored.
“It will help, but it doesn’t remove the human element,” Fletcher said. “I like it because it keeps the passion in the game while bolstering our ability to make those clear cut decisions.”
The technology was used at last year’s Club World Cup in Japan and the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil in June.
Fletcher, who resides in St. Catharines, started off officiating house league games at age 14 to make some extra bucks.
“Instead of a paper route, I refereed,” he said.
The 36-year-old married father of two has officiated at the 2011 Under-20 World Cup in Colombia, last summer’s Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Gold Cup, three Canadian championship matches and several World Cup qualifiers and Major League Soccer contests.
Off the soccer field, Fletcher is a devoted husband and chartered accountant.
Affiliated with Wormald Masse Keen Lopinski LLP since 1997 when he was a co-op accounting student, he graduated with honours from Brock University three years later and obtained his chartered accountant designation in 2011.
Fletcher provides services to many of the accounting firm’s Canadian Tire dealers.