Veteran US Ref and ESPN/ABC Analyst Held Clinic in Sweden

The man who television networks in the United States rely on in their American college football broadcasts to decipher and make sense of referee’s calls spent the weekend in Sweden.

 Bill LeMonnier is one of the most experienced college football referees in the world. Fifty Swedish officials were on hand over the weekend in Örebro, to listen to him and also to exchange thoughts and ideas on how to improve.

“I am astounded at the high level of knowledge and proficiency here. The Swedish officials are every bit as good as their North American counterparts, not only in their knowledge of the game but in their call interpretation which is so important during a game.”

The 20 year veteran of the Big 10 retired two years ago and is now a well known ESPN/ABC analyst and devotes much of his time to holding clinics like this throughout the world.

AFI - Bill LeMonnier - 2pic

“I first got involved in refereeing at an international level at the 2007 IFAF World Championships in 2007 in Japan. I was surprised at how far the game had progressed throughout the world.”

The Örebro Black Knights acted as hosts for the three-day clinic and were pleasantly surprised by the large turnout. Officials from all over Sweden showed up to discuss officiating and they represented the gamut from 20-year veterans to young referees with only a couple of years under their belts.

Tobias Stenström, who also works as an accountant for the club and who is a 21 year veteran of officiating, organized the event.

“Players and coaches maybe don’t realize it but officials do everything they can to improve. We study game film and constantly strive to get better. So events like this are extremely important to us.”

The 67-year-old LeMonnier, from Tinley Park, Illinois, tries to bring a totally impartial approach to his TV commentary.

“If I agree with the official on the field on a controversial call, I will say it. I can also disagree though, but I will always give him the benefit of the doubt on air. I have the advantage of instant replay while he is down there in the middle of the action making split-second calls.”

According to LeMonnier, the level of officiating in Sweden is very high, and the quality is as good as the game itself.

“You cannot officiate at a higher level than the game being played. In other words, the development of football and the officiating must go hand in hand.”

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.