Interview with legendary referee Ümit Sokullu
News from the clubsAthens, Greece, November 18, 2010. The Commander of the net, Mr. Ümit Sokullu, finished his international refereeing career in Greece on Tuesday night by officiating the Champions League match starring Panathinaikos ATHENS and Dinamo MOSCOW. The tenth-generation grandson of the great Sokullu Mehmet Pasha took some time for an interview with the Press Officer of Panathinaikos, Penny Rontogianni, summing up his many memories and personal thoughts.
What are your feelings now that you whistled for the last time in a CEV Champions League match?
I am very happy and satisfied that I finished my career as international referee without any problems.
Your first Champions League match was in Thessaloniki some years ago and your last one again in Greece, namely in Athens. Do you believe in fate?
Maybe, I was very happy for that, I have only good memories from Greece.
Could you recall three special matches that you will never forget?
I would start with the last one of course, i.e. Panathinaikos ATHENS vs. Dinamo MOSCOW, because my career ends here. Then the final game of the 2010 FIVB Mens World Championship starring Brazil and Cuba and the gold medal match at the Beijing Olympics, this time in the womens division, with Brazil playing the USA.
What about your last domestic game?
It is on schedule for this week, namely for the womens Super Cup, between FenerbahceAcibadem ISTANBUL and Vakifbank Günes S. ISTANBUL.
How do you see the sport from your side?
More and more people around the world like Volleyball. We must think it as business in order to improve and develop every single item associated to the sport.
What are you thinking to do from now on?
I will be working for my Federation and at the same time look for some places in order to transmit my experience to others. My main goal is the future prosperity of Volleyball.
Can you make a comparison between Greek and Turkish Volleyball nowadays?
Until this year, the Greek national league was very strong. I think but I am not totally sure that this year it kept a good level but not as in the past. I also heard about some financial problems but I dont know the size of this situation. On the other hand, the Turkish league is very strong. The teams spend quite a lot of money for Volleyball. I think that after Russia, Turkey is the country that spends more money for players, coaches, general organization etc. Our womens national league is a first-class competition. We have great teams and very good players there.
I know its difficult, because you have many Volleyball friends in Greece, but I would appreciate if you could mention at least 5 names that are particularly dear to you
Oh! I can tell you many. For sure, Mr. Kalpaktsoglou, Mr. Margaritis who helped me a lot, Mr. Karabetsos, Mr. Mixelinakis, Mr. Iordanidis, Mr. Beligratis, Mr. Mavromatis and many more.
The last name you mentioned, Mr. Achilleas Mavromatis, is now the new President of the Hellenic Volleyball Federation. What is your opinion about him?
I know him very well. As I know him, I am sure that he will do the best for Volleyball. It is also very important that everybody likes him. He became president in difficult conditions. Mavromatis is a gentleman, loves what he is doing and I believe that he is going to bring Volleyball again to the front.
Finally, would you like to thank a special person?
I would like to thank everybody in Greece and many here are more than friends, they are brothers. Many thanks also to all referees and to the members of the CEV and FIVB family. Last but not least, thanks to my wife, because behind every man there is a woman. So, Belgin, thanks to you as well!