Massimo Cumbo has been among the world's leading futsal referees over the last decade and on Saturday night he ended his major international career on a high.
The 43-year-old Italian took charge of the UEFA European Futsal Championship final between Portugal and Spain in Debrecen, his second such honour after the 2005 edition, not to mention the thrilling 2007 last-four encounter between the Iberian neighbours – a game he described as a "good memory" thanks to the spirit in which it was played. He has also been a referee for every UEFA Futsal Cup final since the first in 2002, but is still as excited as ever to officiate on the big occasion.
"My appointment for the final is definitely the highlight of my career," Cumbo told UEFA.com. "This is a special case as it is the last great tournament of my career. Spain against Portugal always special. This derby is always a match between two of the best futsal schools in the world. I am sure the match will be a great spectacle with a lot of emotions."
As at all UEFA tournaments, the referees have been staying at their own base with their instructors. "The atmosphere during the tournament was great," Cumbo said. "We had the chance to discuss our differing opinions about refereeing. And a great friendship was struck between colleagues from 16 different countries all over Europe. The instructors gave us very good advice. And finally, I am looking forward to refereeing the final with my colleagues Gábor Kovács from Hungary, Stephan Kammerer of Germany and our timekeeper from Finland, Tomi Grönman."
A futsal referee since 1987 and on the FIFA list for 14 years, Cumbo explained the attraction for the small-sided spot. "It is very fast but also very fair," he said. "It means you have the combination of a strong kind of sport, a great spectacle with many goals, but in a gentle spirit. Also I like the contact of the supporters with the teams because they are very close to the pitch. "
Of course, in an evolving sport like futsal, Cumbo has seen things develop in his time as a top referee. "In the last ten years refereeing has changed in the sense of ‘let them play', he said. "It means the referees let the match fly and try not to whistle for every small contact between the players. Also, the referees try to read the match with the slogan, 'wait and see'. It means, the referees wait a few seconds before they decide, because they have the opportunity to give the advantage."
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