Jordi Ribera, a Menorcan referee in the elite of American football in Spain

Menorca stands out as an 'agent' lacking in tradition in the context of American football, but this has not been an obstacle, and perhaps even incr

Menorca stands out as an ‘agent’ lacking in tradition in the context of American football, but this has not been an obstacle, and perhaps even increases the value and merit of the exception, so that ‘one of us’, Jordi Ribera Tomás (Barcelona, ​​1968), has earned its space and reputation as in the (LNFA), the highest category in the country.

Ribera is a native of Barcelona and a Menorcan by adoption and by heart (his daughter was born on the Island, where our protagonist has lived for more than two decades). A journalist by profession, his passion and predilection for the subject that legends such as Joe Montana or Tom Brady have sublimated have allowed him to trace an interesting path that has led to his presence among the best in the country (where it accumulates four years), a chronologically unprecedented habitat for our Roqueta.

«Yes, I have been in the LNFA for four seasons, and before that I was a couple of years in the Catalan territory. I have directed matches in the final phases of lower categories and this year (in allusion to the previous season) a semifinal of the Spanish Cup, “reviews Ribera, who an untimely injury “has prevented” from finishing the season, although he hopes to be fully recovered for autumnwhen the new course starts.

Ribera defines himself as a referee of a sport “that has given me a lot and to which I want to reciprocate in the best way I can, by refereeing”, and which in turn has made power possible for him.return to a world that I separated from my life» due to his transfer to the Island to carry out his profession. «It was a parenthesis of fifteen long years», she abounds her.

«Although we only go out on the field with the shirt, while the players do it with a helmet and armor, I have never had any problem with them beyond the typical lack that everyone claims; the fact that there are always five ‘zebras’ (as we are called because of our striped uniform) means that many times a colleague can support you if you do not see any infraction», says Ribera of his work, in that sense more ‘supported’ than the judges in other sports.

«To prepare the matches we obviously have the regulation book, another one for the application of the regulations, and We meet telematically every week with more experienced referees that expose issues for improvement. We review videos of the North American university league and the NFL, although with nuances because there are small differences in the regulations. In addition, we hold another meeting for the members of the refereeing team to prepare for the next match, there we have in mind how each team plays, aspects to monitor more closely and others, ”the Menorcan referee extends.

On his continuous comings and goings to act as a judge in various enclaves of the Peninsula, Ribera admits that it causes “strangeness” in players and coaches “that he comes from Menorca to arbitrate.” And he adds about it; «there are no teams here and I don’t know of any player born on the Island who has playedexcept my daughter Laura, who played two years in the football-flag modality with the Barcelona Búfals, with whom she achieved two sub-championships in Catalonia».

In the LNFA guild “they are surprised that I take a plane to direct a match, especially in lower categories, but I am excited to make it clear that this sport also exists in Menorca,” Ribera clarifies, and specifies that to the Roqueta «several former football players have come to stop, some of them well known among the island society». In addition, for a time, “José María Rebés, former president of the European referees who whistled for an international final, lived halfway between Maó and Barcelona”, Ribera reveals to us.

The genesis of Ribera’s idyll with American football dates back to 1988, «thanks to a friend born in Mexico who explained the basics to me. Then I was learning. Raphael, that was his name, went on to referee in the Catalan league, at first there was only that federation, and I accompanied him as a journalist to most games. I learned tactics, rules and others », lists the Menorcan-Barcelona referee, who « will never » forget his first game. «It was in Sabadell, the final of the first Catalan Super Cup, Barcelona Boxers against Badalona Dracs, with an overwhelming victory for the former. I fell in love with the sport instantly », he underlines.


But the presence of Jordi Ribera in American football has not been limited to arbitration tasks. «I have worked as a journalist, a club manager, a coach, a federation manager, a speaker…», details the judge, also a former collaborator of the Barcelona Dragons in the World League in the last decade of the previous century, and that where he has enjoyed the most, «by far», he emphasizes, has been training children. “You can teach them, show them values. Adults find it much harder to correct, they have vices that they don’t want to get rid of », he observes.

“Now, my goal is to be able to return to the field in the fall and smell the cut and wet grass again… it’s a very special aroma,” concludes Jordi Ribera, the Menorcan exception at the highest level of Spanish American football.