They are invisible and discreet. Their mission is to offer the best possible show. The days and hours of work do not count. They are polite, cheerful and share a mutual passion for judo. They are the men and women behind the scenes.

Ziad Maafi

He knows judo as well as everybody else. He knows every fighter, all the rules and the history of this sport. But there is one thing that makes him different. He is the only one who watches everything by looking at the screen.

Ziad Maafi was born fourty four years ago in Algeria. His life is linked to judo since his early childhood and he knows all its aspects. First as a judoka, then as a coach and, later, as a referee. To complete the picture, he studied sports and technology and, naturally, oriented his knowledge towards judo.

With such a background he began working in 1998 for the Algerian Federation as well as for the African Union. In 2012, he landed in the International Federation and, since then, occupies an essential but very delicate place.

Ziad is sitting next to the members of the refereeing commission, those who decide in case of litigation, who indicate to the referees the decision to be taken in case of doubt. And, as there can be no doubt, Ziad is in charge of selecting and providing the necessary information. He does it through the images. Ziad is responsible for the slow motion system, to repeat the images from all possible and available angles so that the referees can judge with full knowledge of the cause.

“I am like the VAR in football” explains Ziad. “I have only a few seconds to react and I can't fail”.

Decisions depend on his images and speed. “Let's say I see things differently. I have access to all the images and that is why I see things that others do not see. My duty is also to notify the referees when I detect something they have not seen”.

To warn but without comment. Because Ziad, despite knowing Judo perfectly and having his own opinion on what has to be judged, cannot and should not express his point of view.

It is the first day of the judo world championships and Ziad occupies his work chair from eight in the morning. Eight days of maximum concentration, always with his eyes fixed on the screen.

When asked if he has time to enjoy the competition, Ziad smiles and moves his head up and down. "Yes, of course I enjoy." And, since we are here, we ask for his favorite judoka. "I'm waiting for Ono Shohei," he replies. The Japanese, World and Olympic champion, competes in the -73kg category. “For me he is the most complete, he does everything well and without apparent effort.” Ziad will see it through the screen and, in case of doubt, he will always be there with his essential work tool, the eye that sees everything.

See also
P4P King Ono Shohei returns in Germany

19. Feb. 2020 / Olympic and world champion Ono Shohei (JPN) is chasing ...

9 out of 11 have held a world title
Japan picks all-star team for Düsseldorf

19. Feb. 2020 / Olympic and reigning world champion Ono Shohei (-73kg) ...

Find out who they really are!

18. Feb. 2020 / You follow them each time they participate in a competition. ...

Hear from 14 judoka before the Grand Slam
Fighting Talk – #JudoDüsseldorf edition

18. Feb. 2020 / We spoke to one judoka from every weight category ahead ...

#JudoDüsseldorf 2020 Promo

18. Feb. 2020 / Watch the Düsseldorf Grand Slam from February 21-23 ...

Refereeing and Coaching
Successful Seminar in Honduras

19. Feb. 2020 / On 15th and 16th February 80 people participated in ...

Judo in Schools
In Saudi Arabia, Youth is the Future

18. Feb. 2020 / At the end of 2018, the President of the International ...

Chicago Dreams of a Better World

17. Feb. 2020 / Esa Niemi has been walking the avenues of judo for ...

Judo for Peace
Breaking all Barriers

15. Feb. 2020 / While everyone had their eyes fixed on the tatami of ...

Judo mourns the passing of Masao Takahashi

17. Feb. 2020 / With great sadness, Judo Canada has been informed and ...

Top 5 Ippons - Paris GS 2020

12. Feb. 2020 / Watch the best ippons from the Paris Grand Slam 2020.

Tournoi de Paris!

11. Feb. 2020 / "Tournoi international de la ville de Paris” - this ...

Paris GS - Day 2 Results
Heavyweight drama as unfancied Grol stuns Riner’s conqueror Kageura

09. Feb. 2020 / Paris Grand Slam 2020 - DAY TWO

Shishime Ai (JPN)

08. Jun. 2018 / The next reigning world champion to be invited to answer ...

5 Key Takeaways from judo’s first Tokyo 2020 qualifier

06. Jun. 2018 / Highlights from Hohhot Grand Prix 2018

Judo for the World in Iran

07. Jun. 2018 / In April 2018, the International Judo Federation and ...

JUDO: A Beneficial Cause

07. Jun. 2018 / 'Society should believe in sport as a beneficial cause ...