Football: Head of Breton arbitration, Alain Léauté tells his itinerary as a spoiled international referee

Alain Léauté for memories of his great hours as an international referee, well, just a few… ©Pontivy Journal

Photos of her grandchildren trying to gain ground over those of her summer referee† But streamers and balloons are hidden among his wife’s decorative items, in their home of Cleguerecclose to Pontivy Morbihan† welcome to Alain Leautéformer international referee, but still in the gamewhile chairman of the regional arbitration commission since 2000 – “It occupies the retirement!” he smiles.

He starts at 25 in D3

Among the 1000 lives of Alain Léauté, who teacher at the college of Saints-Anges in Pontivy – “I spent 7 years as a student in a boarding school to come back as a teacher! »- and was also Deputy Director † which was elected councilor from Cleguerec; who has had other obligations, it is for his 36 years referee that he is summoned…

In 1975, at the age of 25Alain Léauté started refereeing after nine years playing for Espérance Cléguérec (one of three Cléguérec clubs that merged into FC Klegereg in 2012).

Nowadays one becomes a referee much earlier, about 14-16 years old, at 25 years old one could not become a referee, it would be too late. But then we were referees at an older age. I started at the lowest level, in D3, but then climbed up pretty quickly.

Alain Leauté

Indeed, Alain Léauté takes the ranking: in 1978three years after his debut as a referee, he takes care of the competition level in 1980at the level of the Federation† “From there I traveled all over France. Then throughout Europe between 1988 and 1989.”

That is a new rule which can take it up a notch: the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) appoints the border referees 1990† A new decade and new opportunities are opening up for him.

We were 7 French referees hired by FIFA, I then became an international judge. I’ve been all over Europe, and even further, in Turkey, Lebanon…

Alain Leauté

“123,000 spectators at Camp Nou! †

In his memorieshe confides a few, such as “de European Cup in Barcelona in 1992, the maximum. I took the temperature of the stadium before the game, there were 20,000 spectators. When you get out, it’ll be 50,000! It’s always stressful. But there, at Camp Nou (Editor’s note: FC Barcelona’s legendary stadium), there were 123,000 spectators! That is no longer possible these days, it is a maximum of 90,000 people. †

Another time, when Alain Léauté discovered cities, entire regions through their stadiums, whose evolution he was able to measure in terms of standards, with greater safety (no more thin glass walls with Amiens† or the construction of new stadiums such as: Guingamp“I was on the Yves Jaguin Stadiumon the heights, the historic stadium of En Avant (Editor’s Note: Destroyed in 2019)before using the . discovers Roudourou† A Roudourou, especially between 2014 and 2018, taught UEFA standards, which Alain Léauté rediscovered with the French women’s team as a liaison officer, one of his current missions.

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Albanians sore losers

Short. Yield in the early 1990sat the beginning of his international career, Alain Léauté recalls the Dortmund-Turin semi-finalthese prestigious clubs.

I would have whistled for the two cups, the Champions League and UEFA.

Alain Leauté

The football world is getting richer, with themassive arrival of clubs from the Soviet blocin complete dislocation at the beginning of the 1990 decadeclubs that will be essential and legendary like clubs in the west. In this lot of discoveries there are also more or less good surprises, as Alain Léauté tells us.

It was in Albania, just after the end of communism, that the Durrës club played a European Cup for the first time (1994). But they lose 4-1. Suddenly we saw no one on the field; we had to manage to get back to the other referees, to get to the hotel, to the airport, to go home. This is the flip side!

Alain Leauté

Ever since Klubi Futbollit Teuta Durres consistently earned a place in the UEFA Cup as they are one of the best clubs in Albania but didn’t quite make it past the 3rd round. But if you find yourself without a guide in a country in turmoil and whose language you don’t know, Alain Léauté will leave an unforgettable memory.

He didn’t speak English

The tongue exactly: “Today it is obligatory to speak” English to be an international referee, not at the time…” And de Cléguérecois doesn’t really master Shakespeare’s language.

When we went abroad, we had interpreters. And sometimes, when the situation on the floor is deliberately tense, you have to be careful not to say a word without really knowing it, or you’ll end up saying something stupid. And there… But between referees it was fine, we moved between referees from the same country abroad.

Alain Leauté

But sometimes arbitration can get the atmosphere of the Eurovision Song Contest. like during a tournament in the Valle d’Aostain Italy (two European clubs, two countries): him as a French referee, a Tunisian, an Emirati (for United Arab Emirates), a Hungarian. “English is the language of referees, but it wasn’t easy… Fortunately, the Tunisian spoke good French, which helped a lot! †

From field to national management

In 1995, it is the end of international arbitration for Alain Léauté, “I had waited for the age limit, I whistled my last game on my 45th birthday. †

It integrates the national leadership to animate and develop the professionalization of assistant referees. Position he will hold until 2021, after receiving extra funding due to the pandemic (age limit at 70, he will stop at 71).

“I am still with the Federation, in the training and promotion section of arbitration”, responsibility that has brought him to Paris and Nancy in recent weeks. And so he is still chairman of the Breton arbitration commission for 22 years.

“More than a thousand games are being played and we need to find 92 umpires”

the head of the Breton arbitration uses its years of experience to Guerledan International Tournament, for a decade, “keeps retirement busy! he smiles.

And to continue: “In order for everything to go well, you must find 92 referees this year, and it’s hard! But the reputation of the TIG makes it interesting for young referees to come. To say we whistled PSG or Barça, even in U13, it counts! And it also allows you to progress in terms of referees, these are very good formations. The sporty appeal is there. †

He uses his network of chairman of the Breton arbitration commission to find volunteers between the ages of 14-15 and 22. Why is it harder this year? More teams participating in the TIG, “More than a thousand matches will be played”, emphasizes Alain Léauté, in the middle of the exams for these young people and at the end of the championships. “But I already had about ten during the preliminary rounds in Merdrignac, on April 18th…”

Participating clubs may send umpires, but do not necessarily do so. A few exceptions, such as a club near Toulouse that always comes with a young referee; or the Richmond American Club, which comes with 6 umpires: 3 boys and 3 girls.

With the Richmond Americans, the umpires are really involved in the delegation, they always go with it. A few years ago, we even entrusted the umpires of the final to an American umpire. But it’s something else, it’s football culture…

Alain Leauté

Welding young referees together

The TIG referees are therefore mainly Breton. “They all come for the two days of the tournament, while they have the choice of staying for a day or two. They are housed in families, just like the players. And they are together, which is an advantage, because a referee is often alone. †

For example, at Cléguérec there will be 10 referees, divided into three families: “They will see each other for two days, it is interesting to forge the team of referees together. Alain Léauté knows that he can always count on them, “many ask to come back year after year…” The magic of sport.

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