Headset talking and expert insight

MAL7445 V
EHF / Björn Pazen

Tanja Kuttler and Maike Merz are the protagonists in the latest part of the EHF video series on its top referees, “The final whistle”. The German sisters were in the spotlight during the Women's EHF EURO 2022 semi-final between world and European champions Norway and Olympic champions France in Ljubljana.

The video shows how top referees prepare, work, communicate and use all kinds of modern technology to make the right decisions.

During their first-ever EHF EURO, Kuttler and Merz received the news that they had been nominated for the 2023 IHF Men’s World Championship in Poland and Sweden - the first German female referee pair in the history of the competition.

“This tournament was a giant experience,” the sisters said of the three weeks in Poland and Sweden.

Right after coming back from the World Championship, Kuttler and März talked to eurohandball.com about “The final whistle 2.0.” documentary. The first part of “The final whistle” consisted of 12 episodes about the referees and their lecturers at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022. 

What was it like to be the centre of attention for this documentary?

Kuttler: "In fact, we almost didn't notice the whole shooting of 'The final whistle', at least in the arena. The video team did a great job and were something like a 'silent mouse'. In this way, these authentic impressions were created and at the same time our focus was on the actual task - officiating the semi-final between Norway and France.

How was the response, and how do you like the video?

Merz: "I think it's a great opportunity to give people who have little to do with refereeing an insight into what's behind our job. It's not just about blowing the whistle and pointing in one direction. Rather, the challenge is managing a game and taking all parties with you, so that in the end everyone feels treated fairly. In this aspect, communication is our strongest weapon on the court, body language supports us non-verbally in taking along the people in the stands or in front of the TV."

Kuttler: "We were impressed by the feedback on the video! We received an unbelievable number of responses - it gave many people a completely new perspective on our work. Even people who are very close to us had no idea about our 'headset talking' or what the communication with the players actually looks like."

Merz: "What you have to say is that the conversations sometimes seem very abrupt. In 'The final whistle' you can hear our conversations very well thanks to the headset recording - the atmosphere of the hall is faded out. In most games we have no choice but to scream to even get through due to the volume coming from the stands. And you can see that quieter mopping breaks are an ideal chance to have a more relaxed chat."


Is a documentary like this a perfect stage to engage more people - mainly girls and women - into becoming referees?

Muttler: “'The final whistle' is an excellent format to show the world what the job of a referee is all about. In various episodes, insights of our - the referees - life are shown which you otherwise would never get. The referee is given a face and a personality – he is humanised."

Merz: "There is so much more to it than simply implementing the rules. In our episode, the focus is on communication, but there are so many more aspects that make the referee's job attractive. You just have to show them."

Photos © Jozo Cabreja / Uros Hocevar, Kolektiff Images

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