Interview with World Cup Referee Graham Poll

Graham Poll supporting "6 villages for 2006"
Graham Poll supporting "6 villages for 2006"

World Cup referee Graham Poll explains why supporting SOS Children for the 2006 World Cup means so much to him.

Graham, what made you decide to support SOS Children’s Villages?
Although the charity is not so well known here in the UK, it is very well respected around the world and has the long-term backing of FIFA. When FIFA told us World Cup referees about the charity, I was more than happy to give my support.

I will gain a lot of pleasure from being involved in this summer’s World Cup - it will be the fulfilment of a dream, so to be able to use what I gain from this experience to give something back is one way in which I can help make a difference.

I can imagine you’re quite excited about the tournament. Which matches are you down to referee?
At the moment, each referee only knows that he’ll be in charge of one match - none of us know which match that will be nor if we’ll be in charge of any others. If I perform well in my first match, then hopefully I’ll be in with a chance of refereeing one or two more.

If you had the choice, would you rather referee the World Cup final or watch England compete in it?
I couldn’t possibly answer that! I just hope that everyone plays to the best of their ability and the tournament is a success.

Can you tell us about how did you get into refereeing?
I started when I was 16, on the local parks and since then I’ve just progressed through the ranks. I began refereeing international matches 11 years ago and was lucky enough to be involved in the 2002 World Cup in Korea-Japan.

Is there any one person you most respect among your footballing peers?
Well, the person I most look up to has to be Pierluigi Collina, who is also an ambassador for SOS Children’s Villages. He has such presence on the pitch and his behaviour is always impeccable. He is a truly great referee and I’m very lucky to be able to call him a good friend.

So Graham, with your vast footballing knowledge, can you give us any tips for the tournament?
My tip is to watch all the games - there’ll be some good football!

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