Urs Meier: You are the decision.

14. May 2021 – Oliver Stoldt

Ex-FIFA referee Urs Meier: You are the decision.

Germans know Urs Meier, he himself believes, primarily because of the yellow card he gave Michael Ballack in the 2002 semifinal against South Korea. And thus denied him a place in the final….

Urs Meier saw the matter clearly despite all the headwinds, made a lightning-quick decision and stands by his decision today just as he did then. “Yes, what can you do, that’s just the way we Swiss are,” he says with a smile, and there it is, that refreshing, boyish charm with which he beguiles his listeners and spectators.

And suddenly you have a smile on your face.

If anyone knows how to make quick decisions, it’s Urs Meier. He is considered one of the most famous referees of recent decades and has also made a name for himself as a TV expert for the second German television channel ZDF, at the latest since the 2006 World Cup. Urs Meier promptly received the German Television Award for his performance off the soccer field. For the 2010 World Cup, ZDF decided to give him his own show right away.

Swiss-born Meier, you could say, is now living his second great talent: speaking in front of people and carrying them away. With wit and self-irony and always with a twinkle in his eye, he talks about decisions and how important it is to make them quickly and accurately.

“That’s the crucial difference between decisions in private or business life or on the soccer field,” explains Urs Meier in a dynamic way. He speaks quickly, in this lecture High German with a fine Swiss accent, and moves constantly. Once an athlete, always an athlete.

He actually wanted to become a professional soccer player himself, but at the age of 14 he realized that he would not pursue this career. Perhaps his first important decision.

What is the difference between the decisions made on the pitch and those made in everyday life? Quite clearly: the speed! “If I hesitate one second here on the court, and one second is not very long, I already look unsure. If I hesitate two seconds, I already look very uncertain, and if I hesitate three seconds, it would be a medium disaster. Zero or one hundred,” says Urs Meier. There would be nothing in between. “There are no 50 percent goals and there are no 70 percent penalties – it’s yes or no.”

The principle in what Urs Meier calls refereeing goes like this: “The good referee whistles faster than the crowd.”

And: “After important decisions come immediately smaller decisions.” That, he says, is an important insight. Because because we’re often still preoccupied with the big decision we’ve just made, the following decisions that seem unimportant can become dangerous. It is important to stay focused and attentive, even under immense pressure. This is precisely the art: making fair decisions not only under great time pressure, but also against other opinions in case of doubt. That takes a lot of stamina. And Urs Meier knows how it feels to be booed by half the stadium.

Urs Meier speaks in German and English about ball sports leadership and Leadership 4.0, motivation and success, and team sports. The titles of his current lecture topics are “You are the decision” and “Between the fronts – decisions under pressure”.

Book Urs Meier for a talk at the speaker agency Premium Speakers. Direct email: urs.meier@premium-speakers.com.

Urs Meier

Former FIFA Referee, Football-Expert & Entrepreneur