The name of Said Martinez represents admiration and respect for Honduran arbitration. The pride of the community of Tamarindo de Tocoa, Colón, is an example for this new generation of referees that is emerging, since it has the title of the first central defender in an absolute World Cup.
In an extensive chat with TEN, the mathematical he revealed to us some of his unforgettable anecdotes in Qatar 2022, his conversation with Messi; Likewise, he explained why he could not direct any game as central referee (nine participations as fourth official), he remembered his detractors and tells us about his projects for this 2023.
Hello, Said, how did you spend the end of the year holidays?
I am quite happy with my family and grateful to God for having allowed me to return home and enjoy my people who I love very much in my native Tocoa, Colón.
Recharging energy after a World Cup in which there was a lot of previous work?
The truth is that here there have been many days of preparation without stopping training and then when a World Cup approaches everything increases. We were very loaded in Qatar, we needed some free time with the family and I think we are living it.
How was the itinerary for the referees since they arrived in the host country?
We had already been in the Arab Cup, something similar, but clearly not the same. Fifa has a great relationship with the referees, they treat them in a very polite way. I remember that we arrived in Doha, Qatar, and they picked us up at the airport to take us to the hotel, and while there they gave us all the tools to do our job. The attention was spectacular.
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Was the effort and sacrifices of a lifetime rewarded by reaching the World Cup?
It is a dream come true. I would never have imagined before that at the age of 31 I would be at a World Cup. We are happy and very committed to what may come in the next three and a half years.
Apart from your nine appointments in arbitration shortlists of this magnitude, what was the most beautiful thing that you experienced in Qatar 2022?
The most beautiful thing was sharing with the greatest referees in the world and understanding that we are still a big family no matter where we are. Within arbitration we all treat each other the same. I talked with great referees as if we had known each other for a long time and spending time with them at the farewell dinner was magnificent.
With which referees did you rub shoulders closely?
I was talking with Mateu Lahoz, Mustapha Ghorbal and Szymon Marciniak, who whistled the final between Argentina and France. Everything was very nice, actually, with some of them we had already been in the Arab Cup and it was good to meet again.
What experience can you share with us?
We interacted with Szymon about what arbitration was like in Poland, about his anecdotes in the Champions League and he asked me about what football was like in this region of Central America, and we were like that with several colleagues.
In Honduras there was great joy when you were seen on television alongside great world figures, how do you feel about that?
I am very grateful to all the people who were with me before going to Qatar 2022 with their words of support. The city of Tocoa has turned to encourage me to wish me the best, and that is the beautiful thing that arbitration leaves. These types of representations had never been given in the country and God gave me the opportunity to be there. I come with my head held high.
Just as positive comments were given, they also came out negative, how did you take them?
Negative people are ignored. When someone reverses a comment against another person, they do it not because they are a bad person, they do it because they are unhappy, happy people don’t have the time to speak ill of others. I don’t pay attention because they are already more than 20 years in this business. I don’t believe it when they tell me I’m the best referee in Honduras, but neither do I when they tell me I’m the worst.
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One of the images that went viral in the country was seeing him cross words with Messi in the preview of the game against Poland, what did they say?
One has the blessing of even being able to enter the players’ dressing rooms for the check-up, and it is something very nice; but while you’re there you don’t realize what’s happening because you concentrate on doing your job, and it’s until after the games when you see photographs, the headlines in the newspapers that you come to your senses and feel what your presence represents in that place. With Messi where we talked the most was in the tunnel part because I was the only one who spoke Spanish. I remember that he arrived and all the children were excited and I told him: ‘look how you have them’, and he answered me: ‘children are a blessing, brother’. On cameras we only greeted each other, with whom if I experienced something curious at that moment it was with the captain of the Netherlands, Virgil van Dijk, because I was very serious before the game and he approached me to say: ‘you look very good today, but you’re too serious’, and he made me smile.
Said, in Honduras we were left with the thorn of seeing him as a central defender in a game, why didn’t it happen?
What was in our hands we have done in the best way because we passed the physical and theoretical tests with very good grades, but in the end one does the job and it is the authorities who decide. The truth is that there is no reason, they did not tell me, they just told me that they were preparing me for the future and that I left them very happy with the work they had seen in me. I would say that I have also been waiting for that opportunity and I will continue to wait for my timing, I am a very God-believing guy and I know that his timing is perfect.
Were the rumors true that you were not central because you had not passed the Fifa tests?
Ignorant people ignore each other, and that’s all I can tell you.
Would you trade your nine games as an assistant for one as a central referee?
A counselor there in Qatar asked me the same question, I answered yes, but he made me reflect when he said: ‘what if you had done badly in that match as happened to other teammates?’, that’s why I think what has happened has been the best.
What did you learn in the World Cup that you will implement in the National League?
You always learn new things every day and I will seek to implement the example of the great world famous referees.
Is it visualized in the 2026 World Cup?
The idea is to work. No one has their name written on a list, let alone a World Cup, but we are going to try to improve day by day with our mindset set on 2026.
What is coming for Saíd Martínez for this 2023?
We have short, medium and long term goals. In the short term there is the National League tournament, and they will see a very competitive Said Martínez; in the medium term there is the Gold Cup and we want to try to get into the privileged matches, and in the long term make good performances to be able to take a place in the next World Cup.
What advice would you give to this new generation of referees that has been resurfacing in Honduras?
I want to tell my colleagues not to stop dreaming, but you have to get up from that dream, it’s not enough just to dream, you have to make it come true.