Interview with Ilgar Mamedov
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Thread: Interview with Ilgar Mamedov

  1. #1
    Senior Member Allex's Avatar
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    Interview with Ilgar Mamedov

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    I found some parts of the interview extremely provocative - given that Mr. Mamedov has quite astringent parameters to operate within - obviously they have to be pulled out of the overall context; yet refreshing that an FIE Arbitrage Committee member can be more critical of the refereeing process than various national ref governing bodies.

    Ilgar Yasharovich Mamedov - two time Olympic Team Foil Champion, former Team Foil World Champion, is currently a member of the FIE Arbitrage Committee. His achievements, manic work schedule, dedication to fencing - have made him a center of attention in regards to the refereeing at the London Olympiad. Here is part one of the interview he gave to Tatiana Kolchanova from the "For the Future of Fencing Fund" :

    Ilgar Mamedov: "There are two criteria for evaluation of the referees - professionalism and objectivity"

    Ilgar, have there been changes in the FIE Arbitrage Committee after the Beijing Olympics?

    Some of the Committee's members remained on board, new names appeared as well.

    There was a lot of criticism in regards to the officiating in Beijing, conversations about some referees' low skill level, as well as, the lack of objectivity in their work. Has the situation changed on the eve of the Games in London?

    If we would look at the time just prior to Beijing, arbitrage then was politicized to a greater extent than now. Today emphasis is on the professionalism and impartiality of the referees. Those directors who due to the old habits "indulge", we separate from refereeing. The same fate befalls those refs who make mistakes in deciding moments, since the price of these errors is extremely high. They are unacceptable especially now, when we have video replay. The referee can verify his decision by watching the video, confer with a colleague - the video director, and change his decision. Yet, if he does not do it, accepts all of the responsibility only by himself, and due to such a decision an athlete, coach, team, National Federation loses, it is unallowable, and not always a pleasant conclusion has to be made. The rules stipulate that the strip referee has the final word. If he uses this right, he should understand that he will have to answer for his actions. If the ref is not sure of his decision, he can share the responsibility with the video director. If the video director can not advise on the correct decision, there is a possibility to consult a member of the Arbitrage Committee. I tell the refs :"If you have any doubts, let's share the responsibility, so that tomorrow no one tells us that the decision was not correct. If this is a group decision, we will protect each other and defend our case." So if the director destroys an athlete's fate all by himslef, then he personally will be punished, and that has been a policy for the past three years.

    Is the list of the Olympic referees known already? What selection criteria did they pass?

    FIE appointed 36 refs to the Olympics, to which eight British directors will be added. Most refs represent European fencing, there are sixteen of them. During the course of many years, these directors were tested at the World Cup events, the Grand Prix tournaments, Zonal competitions, and the World Championships. Among them are experienced referees, and the representatives of the younger generation. Yet, even the most experienced refs have to be controlled, because in sport there is always the human factor, the director comes from a particular country. To avoid unnecessary discussions, we have to observe the work of referees, stand beside the strip, be seen, so they will not defend the interests of their country. If the ref will start, as I called it - to "indulge", then he needs to end his refereeing career, and move to coaching, since he is that concerned with his team.

    And what are the criteria for the selection of directors for London?

    The criteria were spelled out in my program prepared for the 2008 FIE Congress, during which elections were held for all of the FIE's governing bodies. They are professionalism and objectivity. Without knowledge of fencing in general there is nothing for one to do in refereeing, as well as, without an unbiased view of what is happening on the strip, because on your right there always will be a Head Coach with whom you used to fence, on the the left will be your friend or someone very close to you. I always tell the refs: "Your help to the particular athletes or teams lies in your honesty." Fair refereeing is the main aid to the fencers and coaches who need to know that a particular move will be properly assessed by the director. Of course, ref is a human being, he can be distracted for a moment, but there's video, there are colleagues who will make a correction, and will advise on the right decision.

    Is there an analysis of the referees mistakes after the competitions or at the seminars?

    Discussion occurs immediately after the ref made a mistake. Here is an example : at the World Cup in Venice, the Russian National Team faced the German Team. I was working at that event as a delegate of the FIE Arbitrage Committee. I saw two errors in a row, both in favor of a German fencer, but I had no right to interfere, as the Russians were fencing. When the match ended, I called over the director, whom I treat with utmost confidence, and without any harsh words, asked him to analyze the situation on the strip during the bout between Artem Sedov and Peter Joppich. He told me that Sedov stopped, thus his attack was over. He was not paying attention to Joppich at that time, who took "air parries", and then counterattacked. I told him : "You have to look not only at one fencer, but at the both; only then you will be able to make the correct decision". Sedov actually stopped with his feet, but with his hand he continued to change the direction of the foil. And when we watched the video replay together, the referee agreed that he made a mistake. That means - next time he'll make a deeper analysis of the fencing phrases.
    Of course seminars take place as well. In December 2011 Athens will host another seminar for the Olympic refs. We will meet again one more time in 2012 before the Olympics.

    In which weapon most errors are committed?

    I would say it in a different way. The refs get played with, the most in saber. The least amount of errors occurs in the most objective weapon - epee. If one light is on - it's clear who scored the touch, if both light up - touches count for both fencers. There you only need to see whether the athletes have not hit the floor, or themselves in the foot. In epee, even contact is legal as opposed to the other weapons. Contact with the opponnent is not considered a violation if it does not use excessive force, for example, such as striking the other fencer's mask with the bellguard. Foil in the complexity of refereeing is between epee and saber. A saber phrase is very difficult to interpret. Even saber experts sitting in the stands, will evaluate the same situation on the stip differently. Due to that fact, for three years we're trying to keep refereeing on the same straight line, so that fencers and coaches understand how their moves are interpreted by the directors.

    How many times a year do you have to travel to competitions and other referee events?

    I go to 5-6 tournaments as a delegate of the FIE, plus the Zonal Competitions, plus Senior and Junior World Championships, plus seminars, meetings of the Arbitrage Committee. In general, I live on the plane.

    You have a very important mission, and always have to be in great form to analyze the referees' work, dissect their mistakes, teach them. Where do you get the strength for such hard work?

    Of course, you get tired from such labor. When you are in the venue from eight in the morning until nine or ten at night, you literally can not feel your feet, and it does not matter where the competition is taking place, be it Paris or Venice. When tournaments take place over the course of two or three days, you can fight the fatigue. The most difficult competitions are the Senior and Junior World Championships which run for nearly two weeks, since I'm not just watching the events as a spectator, but also solve a multitude of problems, take part in arguments, discussions. So after a few days I become psychologically empty.

    In this situation how do you not become indifferent to the action that occurs in the venue?

    To me personally, when saber and foil take place, it is quite interesting to watch the matches. At these events, I am not just the FIE representative, I live it, I'm intrigued : what tactics do fencers choose during the bouts, how do they defeat each other? Frankly, when epee happens, I try to rest; and you will have less extraordinary situations than in the other two weapons. In foil and saber every touch or cut, especially at the end of the bout, might be worth its weight in gold. If I did not enjoy fencing, perhaps, my job would be a burden. Amateurs or dilettantes most probably suffer at the fencing tournaments, they have a different purpose - to travel, see the world. As long as I enjoy the fencing itself, I will be able to overcome fatigue. If the moment arrives when this lifestyle becomes a burden, I will submit my resignation.
    mrbiggs, gladius and rudd like this.
    "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. And that was all his patrimony."
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  2. #2
    Needs to get Outside Inquartata's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allex View Post
    To me personally, when saber and foil take place, it is quite interesting to watch the matches. At these events, I am not just the FIE representative, I live it, I'm intrigued : what tactics do fencers choose during the bouts, how do they defeat each other? Frankly, when epee happens, I try to rest...
    Ha ha.
    Use the Shift key, people! Keyboard manufacturers everywhere are ineffably saddened when you ignore what they made just for you!

  3. #3
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    Well that was interesting and possibly even encouraging...but only if it's actually true.
    KD5MDK likes this.
    I now dangle to the tassle. Get your minds out of the gutter.
    "Martin was not an optimist; he was a prisoner of hope." Optimism is about assuming there's evidence that justifies your outlook while hope is about creating the evidence and procuring your own happiness or vision of the world. - Professor West

  4. #4
    Senior Member Grasshopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquartata View Post
    Ha ha.
    Frankly, my dear, he doesn't give a damn.

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