As Paris Saint-Germain fans have experienced the last few seasons, poor decisions from a referee can be the difference between winning and losing. At this summer’s FIFA World Cup in Russia, officials will be under the microscope once again but with one added wrinkle—video assistant referee.
On this episode of The World Cup Project, host Marc Damon welcomes Carl-Oscar Källström to the show to discuss referees, VAR, and his home nation of Sweden who surprised many by qualifying for the World Cup without the services of former PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
We begin with Källström’s love of soccer and how he became a PSG supporter. From there, we dive into the topic at hand, which is officiating at the World Cup. What does a well-officiated match look like? As a fan, what should we expect from a professional referee? Several officials at the World Cup will be from small countries where they manage the flow of matches watched by very few. How will they react under the bright lights?
VAR will be a hot topic at the World Cup but is the entire system a disaster waiting to happen? How can FIFA improve the process? Should the governing body of football model the review process after the National Football League in the United States or continue with their somewhat flawed system as currently constructed. One call is all it takes to decide a match so the pressure to get everything right is at an all-time high.
To wrap up this episode, Källström and Damon talk about the Sweden national team and how they went from a powerhouse in the World Cup’s early days to failing to qualify in recent years. Why did Sweden struggle with Ibrahimovic in the prime of his career? Do they have a chance to advance out of a group that some are calling the group of death?
Be sure to subscribe to our podcast (iTunes | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher) to receive every episode of The World Cup Project. The next episode will be available on May 21 and we will be talking with Tyler Dunne from Banter FC about the struggles of the United States men’s national team as well as the German national team. Talk to you then!