Canadian referee Drew Fischer gives insight on the most exciting and challenging aspects of officiating

Canadian referee Drew Fischer provided valuable insight into the exhilarating yet challenging world of top-level officiating.

Written by: Marco Ghosn and Justin Hancock-Lefebour

Drew Fischer shared his experiences facing the toughest challenges in his career, reflecting on the early days of his officiating journey where even local premier division games posed significant stress. Despite the evolution of his career, Fischer emphasized that pressure remains consistent regardless of experience level.

“When I think about the games that have been most challenging in my career, a surprising number of them happen at far lower levels,” said Fischer. “I still remember my first local premier division game in the amateur leagues. Looking back, it’s not at the same level as what I’m doing now and I’m sure that game wouldn’t be especially stressful for me now. But it sure was then because that’s the level I was at.”

Similar to players, referees undergo rigorous training regimes focused on physical and mental preparation to ensure peak performance. Professional fitness coaches monitor their progress to ensure readiness for major events.

 “We train kind of the same way the players do,” said Fischer. “We’ve got professional fitness coaches that push us every day and monitor our training progress to make sure that we’re at our best when we get to major events.”

Major League Soccer 1 September 2020 – Toronto, ON, CAN Canada Soccer by Martin Bazyl Referee Gianni Facchini, Chantal Boudreau, Drew Fischer

Physical fitness isn’t the only challenge that Fischer must contend with. The veteran official highlighted the ever-present scrutiny on referees, with video coverage amplifying the pressure of each game.

“The same way the games get bigger, the harder the games get,” contended Fischer. “There’s always pressure associated with them. We’re in a world where there’s video for each game that goes around the world. We tell referees as they’re coming up to act as if somebody is always watching.”

However, amidst the challenges, officiating offers unparalleled excitement. Fischer described the electric atmosphere of stadiums, the passion of fans, and the unique thrill of key moments during matches.

“Every referee has a different moment that for them is the peak excitement,” Fischer explains. “For some people, it’s the walkout when you leave the tunnel, or when the competition anthem is playing and the crowd rises up.”

Being selected for prestigious matches, such as the Concacaf Nations League Final, is a significant honor for referees. 

“What’s funny is that we all find out like the rest of the world, it all leaks on Twitter,” said Fischer. “Suddenly, we all know who’s going and we’re texting each other saying ‘I can’t believe this is really happening.’ We spend an entire day texting our congratulations to the other people going. It’s super exciting when you get the call.”

Through Fischer’s narrative, the demanding yet rewarding nature of officiating emerges, underscoring the dedication and passion required to thrive in this pivotal role within the world’s most beloved sport.