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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 June 2006, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
Cup ref Poll ready for pressure
Referee Graham Poll
Poll has been working towards the World Cup for two years
English referee Graham Poll expects a difficult World Cup this summer because of Fifa's high expectations.

Poll, 42, who also refereed at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea, says all officials will be under huge pressure during Germany 2006.

And Poll told BBC Radio Five: "If you make a big mistake in your first game it will be your last game and that is something that's been made clear to us.

"There is a very high standard of performance expected of us."

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said he expects a big improvement in refereeing standards from the last tournament in Japan and South Korea and has vowed to get tough on those who underperform.

He said: "We have enough referees so if one does not behave really well there are replacements available."

We can't expect referees to get everything right
Graham Poll

An original shortlist of 44 referees has been whittled down to 23 during the past 18 months as Fifa officials have been busy evaluating referees in Fifa competitions, continental championships and national leagues.

Poll emerged as England's leading candidate a third of the way into the season and his selection was confirmed at the end of March.

Poll, who only took charge of one game during the last tournament, explained: "The fact that we are down to 23 referees now when there were 36 in Japan tells you the standards demanded of us and we've still got more testing to do before we get onto the pitch.

"We have to make sure this World Cup is not seen as a poor one for refereeing.

"Fifa has prepared us the best they can with this two-year programme to reduce errors."

But Poll knows some errors are inevitable.

"You will make mistakes, you have to accept that, what you have to deal with is whether it affects the outcome of the match," he explained.

"We have to accept that part and parcel of football is controversy of the referee's decisions.

"We can't expect them to get everything right."

Poll was born in Tring on 29 July 1963
The Hertfordshire official refereed at Euro 2000 and Japan/Korea in 2002
He took charge of the 2005 Uefa Cup final between CSKA Moscow and Sporting Lisbon
Poll is one of three elite referees in Premiership who could have been selected for World Cup. Mike Reilly and Steve Bennett are the others

And at least referees will have a few more friendly faces around them than in previous years.

This summer's tournament will be the first World Cup featuring teams of officials from the same country.

Assistant referees Philip Sharp and Glenn Turner complete England's line-up and Poll has full confidence in his fellow countrymen.

"We've trained for this for the last two years and we have to be focused," he said.

"We're going as a team and once we're given our fixtures we'll work out a game plan as to what we will do because you don't ref every game the same.

"You look at the teams and work out the best way to get through the game."

Sharp is viewed as one of the best assistant linesmen in the world and was one of the assistants for the World Cup final between Germany and Brazil in 2002.

Premier League Referees' chief Keith Hackett believes having teams of officials is a great idea.

He said: "Graham has worked with his team for a number of years and they almost have a sixth sense with each other. It can only improve standards."

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31 Mar 06 |  World Cup 2006
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12 Aug 05 |  Premiership
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