Rough Brazilians a challenge to Czech referee of women’s football final at Beijing Olympics

Dagmar Damková, the first woman to referee at the highest level in Czech men’s football, recently reached another career milestone, when she officiated in the women’s football final at the Beijing Olympics. The USA beat Brazil 1:0 in that game, and though the ref herself obviously wasn’t up for a medal, her performance was highly praised by Olympic officials. Dagmar Damková described the experience of refereeing the final:

Dagmar DamkováDagmar Damková “It was something great, something fantastic. It was a special event…all the players wanted to win a gold medal and you have a very important role – if you make a mistake everything goes wrong. So it was a special situation.”

I understand there’s a great and bitter rivalry between Brazil and the USA – was it hard to referee them?

“Yes, it was, it was. I had to be aware of everything. The Brazilians especially can be a very malicious and very rough team. I had to be everywhere and I told my assistants to really keep an eye on them, not to let them do these things…”

What kind of things were they doing? Were they punching the Americans?

“In a friendly game against Brazil before the Olympics three key American players were injured and couldn’t play in the Olympics. They had a broken leg and a broken nose, such things. The Brazilians go for the ball in a really rough way, so they may injure other players.”

I saw a photograph of you with the great Brazilian star Ronaldinho – how was it meeting him? And did you meet any other interesting people at the Olympics?

“Meeting him was something unbelievable, something I’ll never forget. He was a really nice guy, talking to him was really nice, he was so sweet and a gentleman. The other person I met was the former Czech athlete Jarmila Kratochvílová…”

Who has the 800 metres record for 20 years I believe.

“Yeah, for 25 years. I was talking to her…she was really happy to meet me and I was really happy to meet her – it was great.”