«The purpose of a referee is to be part of the show and not to be remembered».
Fabrizio Saltalippi, 55-year-old from Perugia. He spent 39 years to referee the volleyball matches. He only has three months left until the retirement, but in his palmarès there are 500 matches in Serie A, 180 international matches, three European Championships and two World Championships. An authentic Umbrian excellence of this sport.
What is your link with Umbria?
It is a very strong bond. I was born and raised in Perugia, and I still live there. Although I have been working out of my region for twenty years, both in Italy and abroad, I have never thought about leaving this city. I would not move from Perugia for any reason.
Last August, you were nominated to referee the inaugural match of the European Volleyball Championship in Poland: how do you face – psychologically and physically – such an event?
This match was important for two reasons: the first because it was the inaugural match of an European Championship, so it had a high-level media impact; the secondo ne, was the fact that Poland had the “brilliant” idea of playing it – to beat the attendance record – in the Warsaw football stadium, in front of an audience of 65 thousand spectators. Such an environment, of course, puts pressure, so our training is very important and helps to maintain concentration and manage anxiety. During the game you feel responsible for what happens and hope that everything goes in the best way. On that occasion everything went smoothly, even though Poland lost 3-0 against Serbia. I remember that the first minutes were a bit ‘difficult, then began the routine and the game has turned into a normal routine match.
You are a veteran of these events, during three European Championships and two World Cup Championships you represented Italy: what do you think when you enter the field during these events?
I have never felt the stress and the tension before a match, but only the desire to take the field and the pleasure of having fun and entertaining. The task of the referee is to be part of the show, to give the opportunity to the public to enjoy a good game, all without being noticed. If a referee, at the end of the match, is not remembered, it means he that did a great job.
When you take off your uniform you take a break or you usually think about some eventual mistake or decisions taken during a match?
As soon as YOU take off your uniform there is a drop in tension and you get rid of adrenalina, but you do not stop thinking about the match. I usually have a critical revision of it. Regarding the fact of watching the video of the match, I focus mainly on situations challenged in the field because, if I made a mistake I need to realize it a sit helps to grow and to avoid repeating them, while, if my decision was correct, it is a personal gratification, and it helps a lot too.
The volleyball in Umbria, especially in Perugia, is getting good results, and it has many supporters, can we consider it an excellence of the territory?
Volleyball is definitely an excellence, just think of everything that Sirio Perugia has won in the past or what Sir Safety Umbria Volley is now doing. However, it is necessary to strengthen the minor series, starting from the foundations.
Such as the youth sectors?
Exactly This is essential. Young people are attracted, unfortunately distracted by football. Once a boy who was over one metre and eighty centimetres tall played volleyball, but now he can also play football. This sport is affected.
A suggestion to a young man who would like to start a referee career…
Loving this sport, almost more than a player, beyond the goals that can be achieved. Having passion, enthusiasm and the desire to become part of the game itself. The referee is not a detached entity, is part of the game and the show in all respects.
How would you describe Umbria in three words?
Green, unique, splendid.
The first thing that comes to your mind thinking of this region…
The architectural beauties. When I am abroad and people ask me where I live, I realize that few people know Umbria, so I explain that it is the land of the Etruscans, a civilization more ancient than the Roman one, I hope to intrigue them…