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Canadian FIFA ref retires ?


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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Jose Farias Martinez: “It was just starting to be a bit too much with the travelling.” (File photo)

Soccer referee leaves FIFA stage

Farias Martinez wants to spend more time with his adopted daughter

By Matthew Wuest

The Daily News

Jose Farias Martinez has called more than 50 international soccer games over the past nine years. Now, the Bedford resident is calling it a career.

Farias Martinez, one of just a handful of Canadians on the FIFA referees list since 1996, has officially served his resignation papers. He called his last game, a United Soccer League tilt in Montreal, in July.

“I’ve had a successful career as a referee,” said the 43-year-old, who was born in Chile but has lived in Nova Scotia since 1989. “It was just starting to be a bit too much with the travelling.”

Farias Martinez also works fulltime as a purser for Air Canada, a job that forces him away from home up to four days a week. As a FIFA referee, he also took at least one or two long-distance trips a month.

While his children — 23-year-old son Eduardo and 21-year-old daughter Vicenta — are now grown up, Farias Martinez and his wife, Gail, recently adopted a one-year-old girl from China named Yulan.

“I really want to spend time with her,” Farias Martinez said. “The two things, refereeing and working (for Air Canada), became too much.”

Farias Martinez, who credits his family for their support over the years, had just two years of eligibility remaining as a FIFA referee. The federation enforces a mandatory retirement age of 45.

“I wanted to leave at the top,” said Farias Martinez, who has also coached Cole Harbour’s senior men’s soccer team for several years.

For something he started as a summer job when he was just 16, Farias Martinez leaves the profession with a lifetime of memories. He said he will never forget calling a 2001 World Cup qualifying contest between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago before 100,000 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

He recalls standing in the entrance tunnel to the stadium when the Mexican team ran onto the field for their warmup.

“I heard the roar … suddenly it was like an earthquake,” he said. “One of the (other officials) looked at me and I looked at his eyes and there was just fear. I said, ‘It’s the same game. The only difference is 100,000 people.’”

The game was televised, with more than 25 different angles for replays.

“I don’t know how you get 25 different angles,” he said with a laugh.

“It was probably one of the most difficult games I have done.

“The whole experience was unbelievable.”

While Farias Martinez is done refereeing at the national and international level, don’t be surprised to see him again on the pitch in Nova Scotia.

“I still love the game,” he said. “I want to take until the end of the year, take it easy, and decide next year what to do.”

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