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Overseas umpires in Chinese National Games
Published on: 2017-09-06
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Australian umpire Daniel Flahive is seen before the women’s water polo match at the 13th Chinese National Games

In the spirit of fair play, the Chinese National Games is relying on the expertise of overseas umpires to ensure impartiality.

027Water Polo competition at the 13th Chinese National Games

Peris Nenad, a water polo umpire from Croatia who has officiated at five World Championships and the Olympic Games, is refereeing at the National Games for the third time. He said foreign officials have advantages over their local counterparts.

"As a foreigner, I don't know anybody or any team here, so there is no pressure," he said in Tianjin over the weekend.

"In Europe, it is a common practice to invite foreign umpires to officiate important competitions. The introduction of foreign judges is good for the development of water polo in China."

024Foreign umpire at the 13th Chinese National Games

As the nation's most important domestic multi-sport competition, the National Games has at times been plagued by scandals arising from controversial decisions and biased officiating.

Last week, the State General Administration of Sport publicly criticized the authority of boxing after protests were filed by participating teams as a result of controversial decisions in bouts at the 13th National Games.

Similar protests were seen at the last edition of the quadrennial event.

Foreign umpires in Synchronized Swimming at the 13th Chinese National Games

In one case, the Beijing rugby squad threw the women's final in protest of officiating decisions they deemed unfair. In another case, Jiang Wenwen and Jiang Tingting, a world-champion duo in synchronized swimming, finished third, losing to a duo from the host province after controversial scoring.

Chen Xu, deputy head of the baseball organizing committee of the National Games, said tight competition in high-profile events places a lot of pressure on domestic judges, and misunderstandings occur when errors are made.

"International judges are more experienced and neutral," he said.

There are 58 foreign officials in 11 sports in Tianjin, including water polo, baseball, handball, field hockey and soccer. Their expertise has won applause.

025Handball foreign twin umpires at the 13th Chinese National Games

Guo Shiyu, a Chinese baseball umpire, spoke highly of his American counterpart, Buckminster Seth Alan, who is from Major League Baseball.

"American baseball umpires are the best in the world. They are strict with details and are proficient in handling small problems, such as tiny touches between hitters and catchers," said Guo.

"And they also help Chinese umpires improve by bringing the latest rules and expertise from the world's top professional leagues."

Four umpires from MLB and the Korean Baseball Organization were invited to officiate at the Games.

0291A foreign umpire in the female Field Hockey at the 13th Chinese National Games

Meng Anlong, chief judge of water polo, said no complaints have been filed by participating teams for officiating reasons since the competition began.

Water polo is among the first sports that imported foreign judges for the National Games, dating back to 1997, the 8th edition of the event.

020Boris Margeta from Slovenia is one of four overseas umpires in water polo at the Chinese National Games in Tianjin. China imported a number of foreign officials to ensure fairness at the competition.

Boris Margeta is one of the four overseas umpires in water polo. The Slovenian has been impressed by the organization and atmosphere of the matches.

"The organization out of the pool, the line judges and the clock... everything works perfectly," said Margeta. "And more and more spectators are attending the water polo matches and they understand the game, which is the biggest improvement."

German Montes De Oca, an Olympic-level field hockey referee from Argentina, is officiating at his second National Games. "It is a wonderful tournament and I compare it to the Olympic Games," he said. "The management has improved a lot since I was at the last Games four years ago."

Jakub Mejzlikis from the Czech Republic has refereed field hockey around the world, including the India National League and at the European Championships.

026Llgiz Tantashev, an Uzbek professional soccer umpire, officiates a U-20 match at the 13th National Games

"In refereeing in other countries, I can learn from local judges and share information with them. It is kind of a mutual learning," said Mejzlikis, who spends up to three months a year overseeing competitions at home and abroad.

"I enjoy my hobby, and the experience of being a referee allows me to make friends from different countries," he added.

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