Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), stated that referees and judges have an important role to play in maintaining transparency in the competition and in maintaining the value and reputation of their professional skills.

In order to ensure this, Chamroeun said match officials and judges must eliminate the “four biases” in the code of ethics in order to be fair and just arbitrators of the competition’s outcomes.

He said that referees and judges have two important roles. First, they have to protect the integrity of the game by enforcing the rules, which means that all the rules of the relevant international federation must be upheld as they have to protect the principle of fair play.

Secondly, he said they have to share their knowledge of the rules and the game widely and openly with coaches, athletes and the public so that they all understand and know the rules, including any new rules or changes, and they must also modernise their skills to grow with the game or sport.

“We have to be clear about our role, we are both trainers and defenders, and in the spirit of protection, we have to look at and protect the rules of international standards in line with the sample templates and rules. When we have the same templates and the same rules, we do everything right and succeed because we are not the lawmakers but the law enforcers,” he said.

Chamroeun was speaking at the closing ceremony of the basic wrestling referee training course under the support of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, which lasted for three days from September 15-17 and had a total of 30 participants from the capital and Kandal province and officials from the interior ministry.

Chamroeun, who is also president of the Wrestling Federation of Cambodia, urged the national referees to strengthen their capacities and pursue their studies to be licenced as international referees to contribute to Cambodia’s hosting of the SEA Games.

For the 32nd SEA Games in 2023, he stated that CAMSOC has enough funds to send their people to study and get their international licences.

However, in order to protect the integrity of their sport and maintain the spirit of neutrality, Chamroeun urged all Cambodian referees to eliminate the four biases in the Code of Judges and Arbitrators: Tribalism, undisciplined emotion, greed and outside pressure from society or individuals.

“These four prejudices should not be present in any arbitrator and we can become a reputable arbitrator and judge by adhering to the ethical code and remaining independent as our core values, so we must eliminate these four biases to build up the reputations of our arbitrators, judges and referees,” he said.

Casey Barnett – president of CamED Institute who also serves as vice-president of the Wrestling Federation of Cambodia due to his long-standing ties to the sport, first as a high school and college athlete and later as a coach and booster of the sport – was on hand for the event as well to urge all referees who have just completed the basic wrestling referee training to develop themselves and pursue an international refereeing licence.

He said this would open the door to opportunities for them to go and judge various competition on the international stage – first by participating in the judging of the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia and then perhaps at the 2025 SEA Games in Thailand and beyond in other countries.

“As a wrestling referee, there are many opportunities to go work internationally, because, for regional competition, the United World Wrestling federation still requires the participating countries to have international referees.

“So if all of you can become international referees, you will have the opportunity to work in many other countries, but you’ll get to start out with the 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia and the 2025 SEA Games hosted by Thailand,” Barnett said.