The Men In The Middle: Who Will Be Refereeing At This Year’s World Cup?

Referees are being watched more than ever in football these days. As if they weren’t talked about enough during half time and full time punditry in the English top flight, the powers that be have gone and thrown VAR into the mix.

The technology will be in force in Russia 2018 and will no doubt upset some of the World Cup odds, just as it has been doing in the FA Cup. We’ve seen British referees making a real hash of the system, but for the first time in post-war history England will have no referee representation.

But who is going to the World Cup as a referee and where are they coming from?

We take a look at those referees heading to the tournament…


AFC Representatives

Referees: Fahad Al-Mirdasi (Saudi Arabia), Ryuji Sato (Japan), Alireza Faghani (Iran), Mohamed Abdulla (UAE), Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan), Nawaf Shukralla (Bahrain).

There are very few referees here that will be familiar to you with very few having World Cup experience. Ravshan Irmatov has officiated at the 2010 tournament, where he took charge of England’s game against Algeria, while Alireza Faghani was a fourth official in the World Cup opener back in 2014.


CAF Representatives

Referees: Gehad Grisha (Egypt), Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria), Bakary Gassama (Gambia), Malang Diedhiou (Senegal), Janny Sikazwe (Zambia), Bamlak Tessema Weyesa (Ethiopia).

There’s plenty of experience when it comes to the Africa Cup of Nations in this pool, but few have graced the pitches of a FIFA World Cup.

Bakary Gassama was present in Brazil, in charge of Netherlands versus Chile but that’s as far as it goes. A few Confederations and World Club Championship games have been officiated by these men, but it’s a relatively unknown group when it comes to the very top of international football.


CONCACAF Representatives

Referees: Joel Aguilar (El Salvador), Mark Geiger (USA), Jair Marrufo (USA), Ricardo Montero (Costa Rica), John Pitti (Panama), Cesar Arturo Ramos (Mexico).

There’s plenty of experience in the World Cup Group Stage among this group with Joel Aguilar representing El Salvador in both the 2010 and 2014 tournaments. In the latter tournament Mark Geiger became the first ever American to referee a World Cup knockout match, while Cesar Arturo Ramos recently refereed the Club World Cup Final between Real Madrid and Gremio.


CONMEBOL Representatives

Referees: Nestor Pitana (Argentina), Sandro Ricci (Brazil), Julio Bascuñan (Chile), Wilmar Roldan (Colombia), Enrique Cáceres (Paraguay), Andres Cunha (Uruguay).

A vastly experienced selection when it comes to the Copa America, the CONEMBOL selection will likely also see officiate a number of knockout games this summer. Wilmar Roldan has experience from the 2014 tournament, while there’s also plenty of experience from these officials in under-age tournaments.


OFC Representatives

Referees: Matthew Conger (New Zealand), Norbert Hauata (French Polynesia)

There’s little experience here that’s not on home soil but Matthew Conger has officiated at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup, while Hauata was at the 2011 Under-17 World Cup.


UEFA Representatives

Referees: Felix Brych (Germany), Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey), Sergei Karasev (Russia), Bjorn Kuipers (Netherlands), Milorad Mazic (Serbia), Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain), Szymon Marciniak (Poland), Gianluca Rocchi (Italy), Damir Skomina (Slovenia), Clement Turpin (France).

It’s very likely one of these will be refereeing the favourites for the World Cup in the 2018 World Cup Final with a wealth of experience at both FIFA tournaments and in the European leagues. It’s a surprise to see no English representative, but the likes of Felix Brych, Bjorn Kuipers and Clement Turpin are all among the elite.

Brych was in charge of the England v Wales game at Euro 2016, so he may seem a familiar face, while Clement Turpin was in charge of the 2016 Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg when Manchester City took on Real Madrid.


World Cup Free Bets

it’s never too early to bet on the World Cup and we’re already starting to see the bookies pushing their free bet offers for the tournaments. Snap up one of these freebies and have an early bet on whoever you think will win the tournament.

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