New Delhi:Politicians running sports bodies is commonplace, but one donning the cap of tennis referee is indeed a rare sight.
Spanish referee Gabriel Mato, who officiated the recently concluded Davis Cup tie between India and Uzbekistan here, is one such exception.
Mato, a Spanish MP, combines his travels all over the world for tennis with his hectic political schedule.
"I have played tennis at the national level. It was in 1985 that I first took up the job of a referee. I am also a lawyer and in 1991 became the mayor for a year of Santa Cruz De La Ralma," says Mato, for whom the India-Uzbekistan clash was his 43rd Davis Cup tie.
"I am presently a standing MP from Canary Island," said Mato, who also has the distinction of officiating in Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and 1988 Olympics qualifiers.
"I love tennis and I have no problem balancing it with politics. At the end of the day my job is to be fair to the people whether they are players or the general public. I enjoy every bit of it," said the referee.
This was Mato's first assignment in India and the affable Spaniard was satisfied with the way the tie was conducted.
"The tie was well organised. The courts were well dressed and the signages looked good. Moreover both the teams were happy and there have been no complaints," he said
Mato also praised the Indian crowd, which he says has been the best behaved he had seen so far despite their sometimes boisterous nature.
"I must say that I am very impressed with the crowd here. They make noise, fully back their team but there were no fights. The way they cheered with drums, I found that quite curious. It was a big contrast to all the places where I have officiated," he said.