In the four years since receiving his first appointment to a FIFA World Cup™, Canada Soccer Assistant Referee Joe Fletcher has been busy. Fletcher, who was appointed to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, returns to the competition after a successful cycle that included appointments to the 2014 MLS Cup Final, 2015 Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers, 2016 Copa America, 2016 MLS Cup Final, 2017 Concacaf Champions League Final and the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
After serving as an assistant referee for the Intercontinental Playoff between Peru and New Zealand in 2017, Fletcher recognized the importance of having been a steady and thorough match official over the previous cycle.
“It’s not easy to get back,” Fletcher said. “One or two decisions and someone can see that you’re replaceable. That was the big fear of the Peru-NZ game, if we made a mistake, the shot was gone.”
Thankfully, for Fletcher the mistakes did not come. A testament perhaps to his continuous learning outlook on developing as a match official and a person.
“Unstructured learning opportunities; you can’t let those go,” said Fletcher of the conversations he has with his peers at the National Referee Camp, after matches, and via digital forums between appointments. “There’s too much value in those and they’re free.”
Fletcher’s methods have served him well. He has been a member of the FIFA List since 2007 and has been appointed to every major competition numerous times, a fact he accredits to putting in effort even when no one is looking.
“Opportunity rarely comes by design, usually there’s something that occurs and BANG! There’s your shot,” Fletcher said. “Everyone that’s putting in the work is going to get an opportunity, and sometimes you don’t even know it happened.”
For now, Fletcher has his eyes firmly fixed on performing at another major competition and isn’t looking much beyond Russia.