As far as World Cup matches go, Italy versus Brazil at the 1982 FIFA World Cup™ in Spain is widely regarded as one of the best ever. For Israeli referee Abraham Klein, it holds very special memories – not least because for a long time, he did not even know if he would be officiating at the tournament at all, for highly personal reasons. As he recalls the game in an interview at the FIFA Museum, the memories come flooding back to the 88-year-old former top referee.
By guest author Alex Feuerherdt
When Abraham Klein arrives at the interview in the FIFA Museum, he is in the middle of a very busy day of interviews with the media, a sure sign that interest in the Israeli former elite referee has not waned in the slightest. In the evening, the museum is due to screen the Italian film 1982 Italy-Brazil, produced by Alessandro Della Villa. The documentary looks back at the eponymous match in Spain 40 years ago, which many still consider to be one of the best matches in World Cup history, and one figure looms large in the story: the man in charge of proceedings, Abraham Klein, who has come to Zurich for the screening with his wife Bracha. After the film, which will have its Swiss premiere that day, he will talk with Della Villa – and with Cristiano Burgio, who plays him in the film.
Although now in his late eighties, age seems to have withered Klein not a jot, as he is just as wiry and slim as he was in his days as the man in black: “I have kept the same weight and figure over all these years,” is how he puts it. His English is flawless, and when he talks about his career and experiences as a referee, it is clear that he is a born storyteller.