Mercy Tagoe-Quarcoo, a former Ghanaian international, has openly expressed her preference for refereeing above all other activities she has been involved in throughout her career.
From 2005, when she earned her FIFA badge, until 2013, Tagoe-Quarcoo served as a certified referee, officiating matches in the Ghana Premier League and earning recognition as one of the referees selected for the prestigious 2010 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.
Before venturing into refereeing, Tagoe-Quarcoo had a successful playing career representing Ghana’s women’s national team. Following her retirement as a player, she transitioned into coaching, expanding her involvement in the sport. However, regardless of her experiences as both a player and a coach, Tagoe-Quarcoo firmly believes that refereeing was the pinnacle of enjoyment for her.
Refereeing provided Tagoe-Quarcoo with a platform to showcase her expertise and contribute to the sport in a unique capacity. She described refereeing as the most enjoyable experience among all the sports she participated in. Despite the challenges and controversies associated with the role, Tagoe-Quarcoo found immense satisfaction in immersing herself in the laws of the game, often dedicating hours to reading and studying them.
According to Tagoe-Quarcoo, refereeing is an art form, especially when women are involved. She emphasized the systematic approach and attention to detail that women bring to their officiating roles, which often pique curiosity and prompt inquiries. Even the way female referees dress for matches sets them apart and contributes to the distinctiveness of their profession.
Tagoe-Quarcoo credited her learning experience during a FIFA refereeing program in Portugal for shaping her perspective. She emphasized the importance of being well-versed in the laws of the game and fully understanding the role of a referee. Stepping onto the field as a referee invites intense scrutiny, with all eyes focused on their decisions. It is crucial to have a firm grasp of the rules and the ability to make split-second judgments. Referees, in many ways, act as judges, responsible for interpreting and enforcing the laws of the game during play.
While acknowledging the pressure and high expectations placed on referees, Tagoe-Quarcoo reminded fellow officials to consider the efforts and investments made by teams in preparing for matches. The outcome of a game holds great importance to everyone involved, and a referee’s decisions can significantly impact the final result. While mistakes are inevitable due to the human element, Tagoe-Quarcoo stressed the importance of minimizing errors to ensure fairness and avoid personal repercussions.
Tagoe-Quarcoo concluded by highlighting the individual nature of refereeing. Despite being part of a team of officials, the center referee takes center stage during a match, with little attention given to their assistants. As a referee, one must navigate the game independently and handle the responsibilities that come with it. Being aware of one’s fallibility as a human while striving to make minimal mistakes is essential for maintaining professionalism and upholding the integrity of the game.
“Of all those sports I participated in, refereeing was the best event I really enjoyed. Even though there were hitches with came with hullabaloo, I could sit and read the laws of the game for close to five hours,” she said on Joy Sports’ Prime Take.
“Refereeing is an art. When women learn something and we are doing it, we do it systematically, we do it in a way that people will look at you and ask questions. Even the way we dress to officiate games is one of a kind.
“I learnt it when I went to Portugal for a FIFA refereeing programme. When you take to the field, every eye is looking at you as a referee, make sure you know your stuff, and understand what you doing; you need to interpret the laws of the game on the pitch. You are a judge and should take decisions within a split second.
“But, remember that people have spent so much to prepare their teams for the game and everyone is coming with the mentality of winning the game if you are not able to take the right decisions, it will affect you. It is not your association, it’s affecting you the individual. You are trained as a group, but when you are selected for a game, no one even looks at your assistants, it’s you in the middle. You are human and will make mistakes, but they should be minimal.”