Who are the referees at the World Cup 2022?
The World Cup will be all about the players representing their nations, as well as fans some of whom will travel across the world to follow their teams, but as we all enjoy on-field action, there is one other very important aspect of the tournament. The Referees.
The process of deciding who will referee the matches at the 2022 World Cup began in 2019 when FIFA chose 50 refereeing trios who would be possible candidates. They were analyzed extensively with due process applied to all of them, and after some consideration, the final number was 36 main referees, with 69 assistants, as well as 24 officials who will split their duties in the VAR room.
How the referees are being selected?
The first rule is that they have to be older than 25 years, and younger than 45 years of age with some exceptions. Referees for the event such as the World Cup are selected from a special panel that is headlined by FIFA’s chief referee. There is a 16-member board, or rather a committee, and there is also a medical representative who is involved with the process. All the members that are a part of the decision-making process have an experience as a referee or an executive involved with the refereeing community.
The first part of the competition at the World Cup, the group stage is also a test for all the referees. They are all strictly monitored by their performances, and if they proved themselves, or if they don’t make too many controversial mistakes, some of them will remain for the playoff stage of the tournament.
Female referees are introduced for the first time
FIFA is all about diversity, so there will be referees from 31 different nations, and there are also three female representatives as well for the first time. So, who are the men and women who will share the field with the players?
When it comes to women, there are three of them. Stephanie Frappart, Salima Mukansanga, and Yoshimi Yamashita. Let’s introduce those three to the world.
Stephanie Frappart from France is the most familiar one among the three. She has been on the FIFA-recognized referee list since 2009 and has been involved in many important matches. Her accomplishments range from being the first woman to referee a match in Ligue 1, France’s top men’s division, as well as the Champions League match that happened in 2020. Last year, she did another important thing for the first time, refereeing a World Cup 2022 qualifying match.
Salima Mukansanga is a referee from Rwanda, she has been a professional FIFA referee since 2012, and earlier this year she became the first woman to referee an Africa Cup of Nations match. Among other accomplishments, she also refereed games at the Olympic tournament.
Yoshimi Yamashita officiated matches at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2019, and at the Tokyo Olympic Games. She has become a regular in the Japanese league, as well as the Asian Champions League.
Alongside three chief referees from the female point of view, there are also three assistant referees: Neuza Back from Brazil, Mexico’s Karen Diaz Medina, and Kathryn Nesbitt from the United States.
England with two chief referees
England is one of the countries that have the most traditional when it comes to its referees, but even a country like England won’t have more than two referees at the event. Those are Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver. There will also be four English assistant referees.
Anthony Taylor is at the bottom stage of his FIFA career. He is 44 years old, so this will be his final World Cup. From 2010 onwards, Taylor has become a staple in the Premier League, one of the select referees who is officiating matches in the best league in the world. Three years later he became a FIFA dedicated referee which gave him a chance to participate in the biggest tournaments in the world like the World Cup. He officiated at last year’s EUROs, but the Qatar tournament will be his first experience at the World Cup.
Michael Oliver is seven years younger than Taylor and got his FIFA badge a year earlier than his compatriot. In 2018 he was inducted into UEFA’s elite referee status. Oliver refereed several important matches in his career including in the Champions League, and he was a chief referee of the crew that officiated a 2022 UEFA Super Cup tie between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Diversity plays an important role
Each confederation under FIFA gets a chance to have their referees at the World Cup, and Conmebol represents the South American side of the football. Raphael Claus from Brazil will be one of the most experienced referees in Qatar at 43 years of age. He was part of several big competitions including last year’s Copa America, as one would expect, and he oversaw Lionel Messi winning his first international title with Argentina.
Matthew Conger from New Zealand will be one of two referees from the Oceania confederation. Plenty of referees, before they start to work on big tournaments, have different kinds of careers. Conger was a school teacher until 2016, but he impressed FIFA’s referee’s committee that only two years later was at his first important event, the World Cup where he headlined a clash between Iceland and Nigeria.
The United States is sending Ismail Elfath to Qatar. A Moroccan-born referee has been doing his job in Major League Soccer for over ten years but had to wait until 2016 to get his FIFA license. He officiated three games at the Tokyo Olympics and was selected among two others referees from CONCACAF who were working at the African Cup of Nations last year.
Even a small country like Guatemala will have a referee at the World Cup, his name is Mario Escobar. He will be one of the least experienced referees in Qatar, his first big occasion in FIFA competitions was in 2019 when he was working at U-17 World Cup in Brazil. A year later he officiated the CONCACAF Champions League Final.
Iran’s Alireza Faghani will have some experience under his belt. He officiated a third-place match at the 2018 World Cup between England and Belgium, and since then has gotten some additional important matches under his belt.
Some of the other notable names from the referee’s section are Daniele Orsato, Szymon Marciniak, Clement Turpin, Slavko Vincic, and Istvan Kovacs.
What are the new rules?
The referees at this year’s World Cup will have some additional rules to follow. In July FIFA announced that there will be a semi-automated offside system that should make faster and more accurate decisions regarding offside. The new rule suggests that the player is offside if any part of the head, body, or feet is in the opponent’s half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of the head, body, or feet is nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
The new technology uses sensors in the ball that tracks the player’s movements, as well as other aspects.
For the first time at the World Cup, teams will be allowed to have five substitutions compared to three from four years ago. If the game goes into overtime, additional substitution will be allowed. Also, there is a new concussion protocol that would give teams a sixth substitution if a player suffers a head injury.
This year’s World Cup also gave national team coaches a chance to select three more players than in previous tournaments, so the number is at 26.
The Qatar World Cup starts on Sunday with a match between the hosts and Ecuador.
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