Who Is Walter Pless?


A teacher by profession, but is now in his 38th year as a football writer. Has written for "Soccer Action" (Melbourne), "Australian Soccer Weekly" (Sydney) and "World Soccer" (London), as well as for several Tasmanian newspapers. Currently contributing to "Goal!Weekly" in Melbourne and the Australian magazine "Soccer International". Played for Croatia-Glenorchy, Caledonians, Metro, Rapid and University in Tasmania, as well as in the United States of America. Coached University, Metro and Croatia-Glenorchy.

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This is an official FFA media release:


17 September 2011

Football Federation Australia (FFA) today announced that former Hyundai A-League and AFC Referee of the Year, Mark Shield, has been appointed as the new FFA Director of Referees as part of the national body’s new Referee Development structure.

Arguably the most successful and well-respected Australian match official in world football, Shield has officiated at all levels of the game, from junior grassroots to the former National Soccer League, Hyundai A-League, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cups.

FFA’s Head of Hyundai A-League, Lyall Gorman, believes that Mark Shield’s appointment is of great benefit to the refereeing ranks and football in Australia.

“We are very proud to announce that a referee of the calibre of Mark Shield will head our new Referee Development structure,” said Gorman.

“His knowledge and experience in relation to refereeing is unequalled in the Australian football community and he is a fantastic role model for all aspiring referees.

“We look forward to working closely with Mark and assisting him to develop refereeing within Australia.”

Shield was honoured and excited to be appointed as the FFA Director of Referees.

“Having been out of the game for three years, it was the right time for me to get back into the game,” Shield said.

“There is definitely an opportunity to build on our previous successes for what will be one of the most anticipated Hyundai A-League seasons since the inaugural one.

“I’m really excited about the challenge of working with the all referees, clubs, coaches and players to improve the profile of referees in Australia.”

As part of his new role, Mark will be responsible for:

Implementation of national policy, technical direction and the National curriculum

Overall responsibility for the coaching of match officials

Responsible for the performance of Elite Match Officials

Appointments to national competitions (Hyundai A-League, Westfield W-League, National Youth League and National Titles)

Develop international pathways/opportunities

Born and bred in Brisbane, Shield began his refereeing career at the age of 12 and quickly rose through the refereeing ranks. officiating senior matches at 16, his first professional matches at 22, receiving his FIFA international badge at 25 years of age and, at 28, being selected to referee at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, where he was in charge of the Group H match between Belgium and Tunisia.

At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Shield refereed the Group D match between Iran and Angola and the Group H match between Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.  Based on those two performances, Shield was then appointed as the fourth official for the round of 16 match between Brazil and Ghana, the quarterfinal match between Brazil and France, and the semi-final between Portugal and France.

A foundation referee of the Hyundai A-League, Shield refereed 61 matches from 2005-2008, including the first three Hyundai A-League Grand Finals (2006, 2007 and 2008).  He was named the Hyundai A-League Referee-of-the-Year on three occasions (2005/06, 2006/07 and 2007/08), which he added to the other Australian Referee-of-the-Year Awards that he collected from the 2001/02, 2002/03 and 2003/04 National Soccer League seasons.

Shield was selected to referee the AFC Champions League 2006 final between Al Karama (Syria) and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors (Korea Republic), and the following year he was appointed to referee the final of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 between Iraq and Saudi Arabia.  At the end of 2007, he was the first Australian referee to be named the AFC Referee of the Year.

Mark retired from refereeing professionally in September 2008 to concentrate on family and business interests.