Now that most domestic seasons have been completed and the international club competitions have reached their conclusions, with highs and lows on all fronts, we are gearing up for the “greatest show on earth.” The great Brazilian legend Pele once called it, “the beautiful game.”
The 2014 World Cup is “just around the corner” and the makeup and seedings have been completed. It just remains for the time to tick by to the June 12 launch in Rio de Janeiro.
By the time it reaches its climax on Sunday 13th July a new world soccer champion will be “crowned” to the acclaim of many and the disgust perhaps of some.
In the middle of all this razzmatazz – literally – will be the referees, the arbitrators, the whistlemen, the match officials, the men-in-black or whatever you want to call them. Black seems to be used less and less these days as a uniform much to my disappointment. Traditionally black was the uniform for referees and whoever changed it needs to tell us why.
It’s strange in some ways that we (referees and assistant referees) are the forgotten contributors to this and other competitions whether local or international. I know that this phenomenon is not peculiar to soccer only. No one ever said it would be an easy task to arbitrate between two competing sides, but a little compliment here and there would be welcome.
It’s a well versed phrase that a game cannot proceed without a referee yet when it comes to compliments and plaudits they are in very short supply. Plenty of criticism and scrutiny yes, but little else.
How many times have you heard people say “the ref wants to be the centre of attention” or as was said to me by Sir Alex Ferguson when I red carded the former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson “the ref wanted to be the star of the show.” Not true Sir Alex, not true at all.
There are many excellent referees around at the moment and I’m sure they will all be vying for that ultimate match appointment – the World Cup final.
Now I’m sure I’ll be criticised for saying that it’s not always the best guy who gets that honour. There is a lot of politics involved. There is also the composition of the two teams in the final. You cannot have a referee from say Germany if Germany are in the final. That goes without saying.
There were lots of rumours around the 2010 final referee Howard Webb from England. There were whisperings that he only got the final to appease the English FA, who ultimately are responsible for referees, when they were knocked out on a controversial goal they were denied.
As we are all aware, GLT (goal line technology) was not around then. If it were it would have proved that England were denied advancement when a legitimate goal which had clearly crossed the line was disallowed.
Mr Webb has again been selected to officiate along with 24 other middlemen. Webb showed 14 yellow cards in the 2010 decider between Spain and Holland and was chosen ahead of his fellow countryman Mark Clattenberg.
FIFA says that referees were picked “on their personality and their quality in football understanding by being able to read the game and the teams’ tactical approaches towards each game.” That sound like a large slice of BS to me.
Be that as it may, the teams have qualified and the match officials have been selected.
Europe provides nine of the 25 officiating teams, South America has five, Asia four, Africa and the CONCACAF region three each and Oceania one.
FIFA also says that a further eight referees and eight assistants will go to Brazil as reserves.
The middlemen were chosen with their regular two assistants. It has been pointed out by FIFA that should any of the team fail a fitness test before the June 12th kick off the entire team will be dropped and replaced by officials from the reserve list. Who said referees and their assistants don’t have pressure???
The 2014 World Cup referees are:
I. African Zone
|Daniel Frazer BENNETT||South Africa|
|Noumandiez Desire DOUE||Côte d'Ivoire|
|Jean Claude BIRUMUSHAHU||Burundi|
|Songuifolo YEO||Côte d'Ivoire|
II. Asian Zone
|Nawaf Abdulla Ghayyath SHUKRALLA||Bahrain|
|Benjamin Jon WILLIAMS||Australia|
III. European Zone
IV. North, Central American and Caribbean Zone
|Joel Antonio AGUILAR CHICAS||El Salvador|
|Roberto MORENO SALAZAR||Panama|
|Marco Antonio RODRIGUEZ MORENO||Mexico|
V. Oceanian Zone
|Peter O LEARY||New Zealand|
|Jan Hendrik HINTZ||New Zealand|
|Mark RULE||New Zealand|
VI. South American Zone
|Víctor Hugo CARRILLO CASANOVA||Peru|
|Wilmar Alexander ROLDAN PEREZ||Colombia|
|Carlos Alfredo VERA RODRIGUEZ||Ecuador|