Theoretically, everyone is in the fitness form of their lives for a World Cup. After all, it’s the biggest tournament in the world.
And it stands to reason that the referees are amped up for the event as well, ready for anything including the brutal temperatures and humidity that is summer in Brazil.
Howard Webb is no exception to this idea, as the 42-year-old English referee is beating the you-kn0w-what out of his body in preparation for the South American climate.
There have been no directives from Fifa, football’s world governing body, to prepare for the conditions, but, for the past two weeks, Webb has reported to this temperature-controlled chamber and pushed himself to the limits of his physical fitness.
The chamber has been set to 40C with 80% humidity as Webb begins the first of 20 sprints, each 150m in distance.
It is brutal to watch, but he would not have it any other way.
“I want to be as prepared as I can,” he says. “Coming to the chamber here gives me that chance. If it gives me a small advantage, if it means I can perform to my potential there, then why not do it?”
You may not love Webb as an official, but I’ll take this guy’s preparation over many others. That isn’t to say other officials aren’t grinding out workouts in their own personal saunas, but it’s easy to forget just how many folks have to be on their physical, mental and emotional A-games for the tournament.