Football referee Damkova on video technology, Czech chances in Germany and more

The referees of the World Cup 2006, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic's 23-man football squad have just left for Germany ahead of the biggest sporting event of the year, the World Cup. But while the team have qualified for the competition for the first time since the foundation of the Czech Republic, not a single Czech referee or assistant will be officiating in Germany. Dagmar Damkova is one of the country's leading referees - I asked her if it was harder for refs from small states to reach the top.

Dagmar Damkova
"I think so, I think so. There are a lot of Italian referees and German referees. But in some ways I think it's good. Because their leagues are the best in the world, so therefore they can have the best practice, the best training, so to speak. Therefore I think it's a good way.

"There might be some referees [from small countries] like Lubos Michel from Slovakia. But these are only exceptions."

Do you think there's too much pressure on referees? For example the World Cup hasn't started yet but it's probably fair to say there will be some big mistakes, and some team could lose out because off an offside goal that wasn't ruled offside...but do you think there's too much pressure in the modern game on referees?

"I think so, I think so - it used to be, it is and it will be. Even when technology comes I think it will continue. And on the other hand I think it's nice about football, because we are human beings..."

The referees of the World Cup 2006,  photo: CTK
Where do you stand on the question of video evidence and other kinds of technology and balls with computer chips in them to show if they cross the goal line?

"I find the balls with chips a really good idea thing. But about video technology...I would also be for but only in the case that a goal was scored and the question is, is it or is it not a goal?

"But because to use video for penalties, for offside or not offside - there will be a lot of trouble, a lot of interruptions, a lot of questions, and it wouldn't be football. But in the case 'was it a goal, wasn't it a goal?', in that case I would use it, that's the only time."

I know as well as being a referee you're also a fan of football. How do you think the Czechs will do, realistically, at the World Cup?

Czech football team,  photo: CTK
"That's the question now! Two years ago, in the European Championships, when I was asked this question I said, OK, we will be good, I would say we will be in the first three - and it was like that.

"They asked me about the best scorer and I said, OK, it's always somebody who didn't score before, so it might be Milan Baros. And it was him.

"But now when I see the Czech team, there are a lot of players who didn't play in the second half of the season because of injury, and I have no idea about the shape of the other players, so it's really hard to say.

"I would be really glad if we got to the top, to the final, the semi-final, but I'm a little bit skeptical about it. I would say that the quarter-finals would be good."