Peace soccer gives glory to God through soccer. Just as you must know clearly in order to take action clearly, I pray that you will know about soccer clearly and give glory to God perfectly.
‘Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.
(2 Timothy 2:5)
I loved playing soccer ever since I was young. I wore soccer cleats to school because I loved soccer, and since I would miss the bus while I was playing soccer with my older schoolmates, I would have to walk back home for two hours on an empty stomach.
While I was taking a training course to become a soccer referee in 2001, one of the teachers asked the class this question: “How many teams are there in a soccer game?” [All] the referee trainees confidently answered, “Two teams,” thinking, “Is he really asking us this?” I, who had played soccer for over 20 years, said with quiet voice, “Two teams...”
Unlike us, the teacher said that there were three teams: two soccer teams and one referee team. In order to have a soccer match, there has to be two soccer teams, and a referee team who judges the game according to the rules. My ignorance clearly showed, and it was a time when I realized the importance of the role of referees in a new way. Since then, I have been presiding over thousands of soccer games.
Today, I would like to talk about the birth of soccer rules, the different types of judges in sports, and the birth of soccer referees.
The birth of soccer rules
It was in the 1800’s when soccer was formulated into the sport it is today. In the 1800’s, in England, people played soccer in a disorderly way, so the soccer teams felt strongly the need for a standardized set of rules. The representatives of various soccer groups gathered on October 26th, 1863 in London, and they had their first meeting, but it was unsuccessful.
On December 8th, 1863, for their sixth meeting, they developed a standardized set of rules and passed a vote to print the official regulations and game rules. As a result, soccer had official rules and [that day] became the birth of the Football Association.
The different types of judges in sports
There are three different types of judges [in sports]: referees, umpires, and judges. Referees are people who run with the players on the field and play an active role in the game. Soccer is a typical sport [that needs referees.]
Umpires are people who do not run with the players on the field but are stationed at certain locations and make judgement calls. Baseball is atypical sport [that needs umpires.] Judges are people who score a player’s performance. Figure skating is a typical sport [that needs judges.]
The birth of soccer referees
Before professional soccer became common, referees played the role of a guidance teacher. However, as more professional soccer teams were founded and soccer leagues became popular (around 1874), [when] teams from different regions played against each other, a lot of conflicts occurred because [teams were playing with] different rules. As a result, referees, who could professionally mediate between two teams, started to appear in soccer games.
Pastor Jung Myeong Seok clearly spoke about why we need referees in soccer games. “You must love your enemies; however, you must also judge [your enemies.] When you play soccer, a referee judges the game, right? Even though people complain about the game, referees judge the game. That is why we have ‘free kicks,’ ‘offsides,’ ‘touch-line outs,’ and ‘penalty kicks,’ right? If any player touches the ball with his hands inside the touch-line, if the referee does not call for a penalty kick, the spectators will come down to the field saying, ‘Are you a real referee?’ Therefore, referees must judge the game.”
When you play soccer, even if you are trying to keep the rules, while you are playing a game, you [sometimes] foul [unintentionally.] Having a referee allows for good and evil to be differentiated, and right and wrong to be distinguished. Like justice, which differentiates good from evil, a referee is justice on the field.