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Shetland Arts announces the return of Film Wednesdays at The Garrison Theatre: a programme of independent and classic cinema for film-lovers, and invites you to get in the mood for the European Football Championship next Wednesday 11th April with a screening of The Referees, a documentary by Yves Hinant and Jean Libon.

The film makers were granted unprecedented access to the referees and linesmen who officiated at the 2008 European Football Championship, and for the first time on the big screen we get to share the tensions and challenges faced by the 'Men in Black' (or in this case, in pale blue).

The life of a referee is hard enough even at a local level, but by the time it reaches European and world scale, the pressures on the refs and their colleagues are horrendous. With their every decision criticised and scrutinised by fans, managers, and pundits all over the world, they are arguably more vulnerable and lonely than the players themselves.  When Howard Webb granted a penalty in the final minutes of the Austria v Poland game, he received death threats from Polish fans and his wife was intimidated at her own front door. An innocent Yorkshire council official who was unfortunate to share the same name received so many abusive e-mails that the council had to suspend his internet account.  It takes a lot of courage to stand up against furious players coaches, managers and crowds. Their integrity, as well as the ball, is right there on the line.

Referee Howard Webb.

The Referees offers a unique insight into the lives of men such as Howard Webb, Manuel Mejuto González, Roberto Rosetti and Peter Fröjdfeldt and discovers that they are, as we suspected all along, only human. So it must be galling for them to put up with hearing that everyone knows their job better than they do (and that everyone thinks they could do it better). And it's hardly 'only a game' when the police have to provide security for your family.

But it is their loyal families – and their colleagues - that see them through their ordeals and their triumphs. To their families at least, they are heroes.

The film carries a 15 certificate and is partly sub-titled. Tickets are available from Shetland Box Office at Islesburgh, 01595 745555.


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