World Cup referees have already attracted plenty of attention in Qatar since the beginning of the tournament. Most notably the decision to stop the clock more often and increase the number of minutes in stoppage time that has already made an impact on the tournament.
With referees seeking to cut time wasting out of the game, matches at Qatar 2022 are now running closer to 100 minutes. All this in the middle of the domestic club season for many nations, with players barely having had a rest since August.
Referees also appear to have more autonomy over VAR calls. Whereas in the Premier League you are almost guaranteed to see a match official change their mind if the VAR suggests they look at the monitor, in this World Cup it has been quite different.
Mexican official Cesar Ramos was asked to check the TV replay in Denmark’s clash with Tunisia following a late penalty claim. He went over, had a good look, and refused to change his decision. America’s Ismail Elfath, meanwhile, felt he didn’t need VAR to give Cristiano Ronaldo a freak penalty against Ghana.
Fifa will argue they have got the refereeing standards right, and it is true that we haven’t yet endured anything like the Howard Webb moment of 2010. Still, there is time yet for an official to make a mess of it and suffer the inevitable abuse that comes with this sport.
There are 36 referees at the World Cup 2022. Here, i details each official and the big finals they have overseen…
11 referees | 20 assistants | 11 VARs
- Istvan Kovacs (Romania) – 2022 Uefa Europa Conference League final
- Stephanie Frappart (France) – 2019 Uefa Super Cup
- Danny Makkelie (The Netherlands) – 2018 Europa League final
- Szymon Marciniak (Poland) – Two games at 2018 Fifa World Cup
- Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain) – 2021 Champions League final
- Michael Oliver (England) – 2021 FA Cup final
- Daniele Orsato (Italy) – 2020 Champions League final
- Daniel Siebert (Germany) – 2021 Arab Cup final
- Anthony Taylor (England) – 2017 FA Cup final, 2020 Uefa Super Cup, 2021 Uefa Nations League Final
- Clement Turpin (France) – 2021 Uefa Europa League final, 2022 Uefa Champions League
- Slavko Vincic (Slovenia) – 2022 Europa League final
Europe has 11 referees at this World Cup, including two from England. However, neither Michael Oliver nor Anthony Taylor were given a game to officiate in the first round of group games. There are claims this is punishment by Fifa for England’s stance against discrimination in Qatar.
The 2022 Champions League final referee Clement Turpin is at the tournament, as is Slavko Vincic from the Europa League final, and the Conference League final ref Istvan Kovacs.
France’s Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to officiate at a men’s World Cup when she was appointed fourth official for Mexico’s Group C clash with Poland.
AFC – (Asia)
6 referees | 10 assistants | 4 VARs
- Abdulrahman al-Jassim (Qatar) – 2019 Fifa Club World Cup final
- Chris Beath (Australia) – 2021 Fifa Club World Cup final
- Alireza Faghani (Iran) – 2014 AFC Champions League final
- Ma Ning (China) – One match at the 2019 AFC Asian Cup
- Mohammed Abdulla Mohamed (UAE) – 2015 Asian Cup
- Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan) – 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup, 2020 Summer Olympics
Asia have six referees at this World Cup, including Yoshimi Yamashita – the ref of the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup and 2020 Summer Olympics. Qatar’s Abdulrahman al-Jassim oversaw the 2019 Fifa Club World Cup final, where Liverpool beat Flamengo 1-0 at the Khalifa Stadium thanks to an extra-time goal from Roberto Firmino.
CAF – (Africa)
6 referees | 10 assistants | 2 VARs
- Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) – 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup, 2022 Africa Cup of Nations
- Maguette Ndiaye (Senegal) – 2021 Africa Cup of Nations
- Bakary Papa Gassama (Gambia) – 2015 Africa Cup of Nations
- Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria) – 2020 CAF Champions League final
- Victor Gomes (South Africa) – 2021 Africa Cup of Nations final
- Janny Sikazwe (Zambia) – 2016 Fifa Club World Cup final, 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final
Africa’s contingent of six referees at this World Cup naturally have plenty of Afcon experience, while Zambia’s Janny Sikazwe oversaw the 2016 Fifa Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers.
Rwandan ref Salima Mukansanga has previously worked at the Olympics and the Africa Cup of Nations, and officiated a group game at the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Concacaf – (North/Central America and Caribbean)
5 referees | 12 assistants | 3 VARs
- Mario Escobar (Guatemala) – 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup final, 2020 Concacaf Champions League final
- Ivan Barton (Salvador) – 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup
- Ismail Elfath (United States) – 2019 Fifa U-20 World Cup final, 2020 Olympics, 2022 MLS Cup final
- Said Martinez (Honduras) – Concacaf Gold Cup final
- César Ramos (Mexico) – 2017 Fifa Club World Cup final
Just five referees from the Caribbean, North and Central America appear at this World Cup. This includes American Ismail Elfath who recently oversaw the 2022 MLS Cup final, which Gareth Bale’s LAFC won on a penalty shoot-out against Philadelphia Union. César Ramos took charge of the 2017 Fifa Club World Cup final between Real Madrid and Gremio in Abu Dhabi.
Conmebol – (South America)
7 referees | 15 assistants | 4 VARs
- Raphael Claus (Brazil) – 2021 Copa América third place playoff
- Facundo Tello (Argentina) – 2022 Argentina Champions Trophy final
- Jesus Valenzuela (Venezuela) – 2021 Copa America
- Andres Matonte (Uruguay) – 2021 Arab Cup
- Kevin Ortega (Peru) – 2020 Summer Olympics, 2022 Copa Libertadores
- Fernando Rapallini (Argentina) – 2017 Copa Argentina, 2020 Copa Libertadores final, Euro 2020
- Wilton Sampaio (Brazil) – 2021 Copa América, 2022 Copa do Brasil final
Argentine Néstor Pitana was the man in the middle for the 2018 World Cup final but isn’t at this year’s tournament. Instead, two other Argentines and two Brazilians and make up the seven-person Conmebol contingent at this World Cup.
This includes Pitana’s natural successor Fernando Rapallini, who refereed at Euro 2020 last year. Wilton Sampaio, meanwhile, recently oversaw Flamengo’s penalty shoot-out victory over Corinthians in the 2022 Copa do Brasil final.
OFC – (Oceania)
1 referee | 2 assistants
- Matthew Conger (New Zealand) – 2018 Fifa World Cup
Texas-born Matthew Conger is the only official from the Oceana region as Australia’s Chris Beath comes under the AFC banner. Conger is New Zealand’s leading referee and conducted one game at the 2018 World Cup, where Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0 in Volgograd.