Alessandro Eccelsi: From the most prestigious rinks in Europe to the most important refereeing table in the world

Rink Hockey

A few days ago World Skate has appointed Mr. Alessandro Eccelsi, 45 years old commercial manager from Italy, as Coordinator (Referee in Chief) of the Referees of the Rink Hockey Technical Commission. He started refereeing in 2007 and quickly established himself nationally and internationally, refereeing in Italian National Championships finals and on occasion of the last seven editions of Euroleague’s Final Four. This new role awarded by World Skate President Sabatino Aracu will take him from the rinks to actually being part of the decision-making process for Rink Hockey. With this interview, Alessandro Eccelsi will tell us how this decision has been reached and what his projects for the Rink Hockey referees will be.

From the most prestigious rinks in Europe to the most important refereeing table in the world. Tell us how your journey has begun.
"This journey started many years ago. I have always been interested in politics and since a few years back I started thinking that is was best for the refereeing world to be governed by referees, at least from a technical standpoint. It all started from this and I made the proposal to President Aracu of creating something completely new and revolutionary in a sense: a refereeing technical commission parallel and complementary to the International Rink Hockey Commission. I presented a detailed project to President Aracu and the Rink Hockey Technical Commission Chairman Carmelo Paniagua: a commission that was similar to the one in FIFA for soccer, with the aim of developing a wide-ranging technical project destined to countries less advanced in this discipline and fostering the level of their referees so that they can reach the level of those belonging to stronger countries. The idea was well received by both of them and I was asked to take on this new role. And then the most difficult part followed: begrudgingly giving up refereeing during the prestigious international events. At the same time, I feel excited and thrilled because now I have the chance to share with my fellow referees the great passion I have for this sport, especially refereeing."

What will your new role entail?
"I will coordinate and train referees at global level, compile the referees categories (there will be 3 of them), appoint the referees for World Skate events (currently World Skate Games and Montreux Tournament), and take part in technical meetings that will address changes in the regulations. I believe we should update the technical regulations in their form in order to make them more functional for the referees and simplify their correct implementation. This point is essential to make the rules more understandable and easily applicable by the audience."

What are the main refereeing issues and what will be the first projects and ideas you want to develop?
"I would rather not call them issues, I would say opportunities for growth and development is a better term. Making all the referees in each part of the world know the regulations and their correct implementation in the same way is definitely one of the first thing to address. In order to do this, my team and I need to find trainers in different geographical areas and give them guidelines and tools in order for them to supply a constant and adequate training to the referees of those areas. After this first important step, we will have to verify whether out teachings have been adequately understood or not with some tests. The following step will then be assessing referees’ physical shape, being rink hockey a very dynamic sport. Our sport is extremely successful in terms of spectator and TV coverage, therefore referees shall be in shape, especially for international events, to avoid lack of credibility. A complex but very important topic is the revision of the way regulations are written. It is a step that will involve different people that I believe is essential to make rules clearer and easier so that they can be easily understood and memorized and consequently better implemented. Also the current refereeing manual is in need of a review seeing that it includes too many gestures that can distract the referee who shall be focused on the competition. It is clear these are topics that have to be addressed, discussed and developed in the medium/long run."

You will work in close contact with President Aracu, Chairman Paniagua and experienced people such as Daniel Martinazzo and Antonio Aguiar. Have you already talked to them?
"It is surely stimulating and a huge opportunity working by the side of these skillful managers. To date, I had in depth talks with President Aracu and Chairman Paniagua, but we have already scheduled a video call with the other members of the committee."

In the meantime, World Skate has renovated also the European technical committee. What relationship do you envision with the continental committees?
"From a purely political point of view, there are surely people more competent than me to give an opinion. From a refereeing standpoint, I perfectly know both Ricardo Oliveira and Carlos Raposo (World Skate Europe Referees Directors) that were part of the previous commission with different roles, that I had the occasion of engage with and discuss when I was refereeing during many top level events. Knowing each other so well, it will be easy finding common ground on the guidelines to be followed that will benefit all referees. As for the other continental committees, I know a lot less, but I am sure that Martinazzo will be of help for the south American part and Aguiar for the Asian one. The principles that will be outlined by World Skate and that will be followed by the continental managers are the traditional ones: working daily on the training and growth of referees to guarantee the smooth progress of competitions and the correct application of Rink Hockey rules. All of this bearing in mind the notion that “the best referee is the one that makes the players of the competition accept also his mistakes”. To do so, us managers shall make our referees possess passion, expertise and authority.”