When he’s not officiating, World Cup referee Nawaf Shukralla goes fishing. A nice way to escape from a high-pressure job, I suppose. One mistake in tonight’s game between Ghana and Portugal, and Shukralla could be all over the news, mocked for incompetence and accused of corruption.
As an elite referee, he will be well paid for his efforts. But day-to-day referees need more recognition for their roles. In the United States, referees who asked for better working conditions were recently barred from working in the Major League. One in five Bavarian referees say that higher salaries are needed to attract more talented referees.
Despite being society’s next-most important card dealers, teachers also feel underappreciated. According to the new OECD TALIS survey, only one in three teachers across 34 countries think that their profession is valued by society. In Portugal, only one in ten teachers think so.
Undervaluing teachers is an own goal. Korea and Belgium (who face off in Group H tonight) show us that countries where teachers feel valued are also countries where students perform better. Teachers there are given better training, good feedback and sufficient rewards for good performance.
Like the best teachers, Nawaf Shukralla is more facilitator than preacher. He is known as a calm referee who allows play to develop as much as possible. Let’s hope that he doesn’t have to deal with any biters tonight (though I wish him lots of them on his next fishing trip).