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Peter Willems appointed as director of the Referee Department

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Peter Willems. — © Luc Daelemans

Football

Peter Willems faces the difficult task of raising the level of arbitration in our country. The 49-year-old Limburger is appointed as director of arbitration, Herbert Fandel resigns with immediate effect. At the end of the season the paths also part with technical director Bertrand Layec.

Too many (and too expensive) bosses and poor performance from the referees. That is why the Football Association intervenes. After the criticism in recent months, Herbert Fandel, the German chairman of the Refereeing Board, decided to keep the honor to himself. “Because I, as chairman of the Belgian referees, want to take responsibility for the current situation, I am resigning from my position with immediate effect,” he said in a press release. At the end of the season they also part ways with referee boss Bertrand Layec. This news does not come as a surprise at all, because the 58-year-old Frenchman has been under fire for some time. For example, Layec himself chose the three nominees for the ‘Referee of the Year’ award, even though data showed that none of the referees he nominated were among the best performing refs in the rankings in terms of key decisions.

Referee boss Bertrand Layec. — © BELGA

Peter Willems, ex-CEO of OH Leuven, will be his replacement as director of the Professional Refereeing Department (PRD). He will have the difficult task of further professionalizing the PRD and further raising the level of arbitration in our country. He is responsible for organizing the daily operations. For example, he will oversee the process of appointing the referee. These designations will be decided as a team, and based on the available data. These data allow the quality of referees and assistant referees in professional football to be monitored objectively. Willems will also roll out and further develop the strategic plan for professional arbitration – which was launched at the start of the season. He also considers the structure and organization of the PRD for the coming season.

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Peter Willems — © Luc Daelemans

Stephanie Forde remains responsible for the operational aspect of Belgian arbitration and Frank De Bleeckere for the guidance and advancement of young referees. Kevin Blom and Christophe Dierick are responsible for the VAR.

Storm

“Our referees are in the eye of the storm, while they prefer to carry out their work with complete discretion,” says Piet Vandendriessche, CEO of the KBVB. “We want to help them with this in the coming months. In the short term by offering the guidance they deserve, but also by building the future of arbitration in our country. We are not looking for quick solutions, but are working on a broadly supported plan of action that will take arbitration to a higher level in the long term. Because the importance of quality arbitration and VAR cannot be underlined enough.”

The association now gives Willems a mandate as director to conduct a thorough audit of the Referee Department.

Piet Vandendriessche, CEO of the KBVB. — © marcwallican.be

What is Peter Willems (49)?

Peter Willems grew up in Kiewit. At the age of seven he moved with his parents to Sint-Truiden, and at the age of 18 he moved to Leuven for his higher studies. He studied commercial engineering at KU Leuven and subsequently gained experience in various positions at Reebok, Deloitte & Touche, the global sports agency Octagon and UEFA, where he was responsible for marketing, merchandising, branding and sponsorship research. “I was on the payroll at Octagon, but I worked for Mastercard. That is one of the brands Octagon works with. Because Mastercard is a sponsor of the Champions League and I had almost daily contact with UEFA for six years, I ended up at the head office in Nyon in 2005,” Willems said in an earlier interview with Het Belang van Limburg. At the beginning of 2019, he returned to Belgium after fourteen years to become CEO at OH Leuven, where he paid the price for the poor results on September 5. At the end of last year, Willems was still clearly in the picture to become CEO of the football association. That ultimately became former Deloitte CEO Piet Vandendriessche, but the ties between the union and Willems remained warm.

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