17 referees, 37 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees appointed for next phase of 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™

The FIFA Referees Committee has selected 17 referees, 37 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees for the final phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.

Given the number of matches left and the teams that have qualified for the next round, the number of referees has been reduced. Appointed for the next phase are:

AFC: FAGHANI Alireza (IRN); SHUKRALLA Nawaf Abdulla (BHR)





UEFA: CAKIR Cuneyt (TUR); KUIPERS Bjorn (NED); MATEU LAHOZ Antonio (ESP); MAZIC Milorad (SRB); ROCCHI Gianluca (ITA); SKOMINA Damir (SVN)

Video Assistant Referees


UEFA: DANKERT Bastian (GER); DIAS SOARES Artur (POR); GIL Pawel (POL); IRRATI Massimiliano (ITA); MAKKELIE Danny (NED); ORSATO Daniele (ITA); VALERI Paolo (ITA); ZWAYER Felix (GER)

The FIFA Referees Committee would like to thank all the match officials that have been involved in the 2018 FIFA World Cup so far for their commitment and professionalism.

Referee designations - 2018 FIFA World Cup Matches 56 and 57 (6 July 2018)

URUGUAY - FRANCE (Quarter-finals)

Referee: Nestor PITANA (ARG)
Assistant Referee 1: Hernan MAIDANA (ARG)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Pablo BELATTI (ARG)
Fourth Official: Alireza FAGHANI (IRN)
Reserve Assistant: Reza SOKHANDAN (IRN)

BRAZIL - BELGIUM (Quarter-finals)

Referee: Milorad MAZIC (SRB)
Assistant Referee 1: Milovan RISTIC (SRB)
Assistant Referee 2: Dalibor DJURDJEVIC (SRB)
Fourth Official: Jair MARRUFO (USA)
Reserve Assistant: Corey ROCKWELL (USA)

Referee designations - 2018 FIFA World Cup Matches 58 and 59 (7 July 2018)

SWEDEN - ENGLAND (Quarter-finals)

Referee: Bjorn KUIPERS (NED)
Assistant Referee 1: Sander VAN ROEKEL (NED)
Assistant Referee 2: Erwin ZEINSTRA (NED)
Fourth Official: Antonio MATEU LAHOZ (ESP)
Reserve Assistant: Pau CEBRIAN (ESP)

RUSSIA - CROATIA (Quarter-finals)

Referee: Sandro RICCI (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Emerson DE CARVALHO (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Marcelo VAN GASSE (BRA)
Fourth Official: Janny SIKAZWE (ZAM)
Reserve Assistant: Jerson DOS Santos (ANG)

Source: FIFA

Sadio Mané - Red Card Interpretation

The Barclays Premier League is the one that keeps on giving, week after week. No sooner have we gotten over one problem when another one comes hurtling along the line. Last weekend was no different and thanks to referees Jon Moss and Mike Jones we had plenty to chat about in the bars and clubs around the length and breath of the country. It was not the fact that these officials had been at the centre of controversy over the weekend, but in the way everyone interpreted their decisions.


Jon Moss took control of arguably the biggest game of the weekend between Manchester City and Liverpool and the fall out from his decision to send off Liverpool's Mane for a challenge on the Manchester City goalkeeper is still going on. As a rule I very rarely have much time for the opinions of ex footballers when it comes to refereeing decisions as in my opinion they have not got an idea about applying the laws of the game. So when Jon Moss sent off Mane, cue the usual moaning as to what most of them saw as a bad decision. In fact this is where there is a strange twist to the story, as in my opinion on the day Jon Moss got it drastically wrong as well. As I was watching the game live on TV like most fans I thought to myself that it was a terrible decision to show a red card. In my opinion the player was only going for the ball and if we can not challenge for the ball anymore we may as well just pack the game in, I actually felt at the time that at worst it deserved a yellow card. The difference with this decision was that the challenge had endangered the City goalkeeper,s safety and that is why Jon sent off Mane. The Liverpool player must surely have felt hard done by, but that is the way the modern game has gone and in fairness we have to be thankful as it gives players better protection. A good friend of mine who is a former referee in South Africa, Errol Sweeney, got slaughtered on social media in the aftermath of the game when he posted that he thought it should only have been a yellow card as well. The laws of the game are laid down in front of people who play the game, but the most important thing is how to apply them. Jon Moss got it spectacularly correct on Saturday, not like quite a few of us who got it wrong or maybe it was our interpretation that was wrong.

If you fast forward from the incident that happened on Saturday and look at the one that happened in the Swansea and Newcastle game on Sunday you will see a totally  different outcome for a similar challenge. The referee in charge of this game was Mike Jones and in my opinion he is an accident waiting to happen every time he enters the field of play. Over the years Mike has given us some great entertainment with the decisions he has got horribly wrong. On Sunday, Mike had a tricky incident to deal with when a high boot by Newcastle,s Matt Ritchie caught a Swansea player around the head area, but it was only punished with a yellow card. The challenge was very similar to the one involving Mane on Saturday but on this ocasssion the colour of the card was different. The fact that the Swansea defender did not hit the ground or indeed need medical attention probably had a huge impact on Mike making his mind up as to what to do. I am not saying on this occasion that Mike was wrong but I also feel he was not correct either.

Both of these games brought about different outcomes for similar decisions, something that needs to be sorted out. Interpretation of the laws of the game are vital if the officials are to become more consistent and the only way they can get these big calls correct is to discuss them at meetings and work shops so as everyone is singing from the same songbook, but this will take a great deal of work and understanding. I do not see consistency improving anytime soon.

By David Meier

Ridiculous Refereeing

Every season brings along new problems for every referee. At the start of each campaign the referees have been given new instructions for any law changes that may have occurred during the summer break. The most important thing from a refereeing point of view is that when you are given those guidelines it is how each official applys them. Different referees pick up on these instructions and when they apply them differently it causes all sorts of problems. I have always been of the opinion that a referee should rarely be seen in a game, if the viewer does not see the official for the ninety minutes you can be sure that official has had a good game. So as we head back into domestic football next weekend after the international break, what silliness has caught my eye in the first couple of games of this season.

One referee who certainly loves the limelight is Mike Dean. There are times when I see him officiate and he makes my blood boil, he comes up with some bizarre decisions and generally has been known to ruin a game. The last round of fixtures in the Barclays Premier League saw Mike take control of the Bournemouth versus Manchester City game and true to form he was centre of attention once again. A game that saw nine yellow cards and one red was the talk of the media circus on the Saturday evening. I do not know how he does it, but Mike seems to apply the philosophy that every time he blows for a foul in the game a yellow card must follow, it is an awful way to referee. In my opinion in this game Mike missed two blatant red cards when he did not give Kompany and Ake their marching orders, by failing to do so he gave himself loads of problems that could so easily have been avoided.

The way the game was refereed was very poor and to be perfectly honest officiating like this should not be allowed happen again. I have always stated that referees need to be consistent with their decisions and if they fail to be it can be  frustrating for players and managers. Mike Dean,s decision to show Raheem Sterling a second yellow card for celebrating in the crowd after an injury time winner for City was laughable. It was a goal that was going to win the game for his side and it came so late in the match you could understand the City players celebration, for god sake if we kill celebrating we may as well kill the game. Bournemouth,s  Charlie Daniels did exactly the same when he scored but no card followed his celebrations. It was as if Mike wanted all the attention on himself right at the very end of the game and by sending Sterling off and he got his moment. By the letter of the law Raheem was wrong when he went into the crowd as the players this season have been warned about this sort of behaviour, but with Raheem already on a yellow card a good referee would have turned a blind eye and not brought problems on himself.

I am sure as we go forward this season we will see loads of mistakes made by officials and I can understand that, but what I can not sit back and watch is referee,s trying to hog the limelight and be the centre of attention. It is a trend a few referee's have started and to be perfectly honest the game can do without these performing seals. As I mentioned earlier, in my opinion a referee should not be seen throughout a game, the only time I want to see the official is when he is stamping his authority on the game for bad behaviour by the players. I do hope we see the cream of refereeing come to the top this season as I do not want to be writing about idiots with whistles for the next nine months. So let us see what the next round of games bring, a lot of controversy I expect.

That VAR Debate

Over the past couple of weeks you have all probably watched the 2017 Confederations Cup played in Russia and everyone also  had an opportunity to look at the new Video Assisted Referee's or VAR as it is commonly known, in action. This new addition to our beautiful game was used in the tournament and it was great to see it action and how was it going to work. It gave all of the sceptic's including myself, the chance to run the rule over something that is new in our game and if the men upstairs in suits have there way, it will become a permanent feature. The introduction of this new technology has been long overdue and the reason it has been brought in is because players are continously cheating and have added a new dimension to their game by trying to con referees. This new technology is now in place to help the referees sort out the major issues in the match that happen.

The system was put in place to have a look at four specific areas and they are, Goals and whether there was a violation during the build up, Penalty decisions, Red Card decisions and Mistaken identity in awarding a red or yellow card. I felt during during the tournament it was very confusing when the system was called upon, the stopping of the game to view many incidents was very annoying. I saw in one game an incident review for a goal that had been scored, the officials went back to have a look at a phase of play that had long passed before the ball was finally put in the net. The goal was eventually disallowed for an offside but in my opinion it was utterly ridiculous to go back so far to review the incident. There was also an incident in a game where a referee sent off the wrong player and on reviewing his decision he returned onto the pitch and eventually got the correct offender. The only annoying part about this incident was the referee wandering around the pitch to find the player he was looking for, simply embarrassing. The final itself was not without controversy, when a Chilean player clearly elbowed his opponent in the face and although the referee reviewed the incident he only produced a yellow card. In that incident the referee had two opportunities to get things correct and in my opinion made a mess of it.

It is very hard to be critical of a system that is been trialled but if we are to bring this into our beautiful game we need to smooth off the rough edges. In my opinion it has led to lazy refereeing because these top officials should be getting the big calls correct, there are no excuses for top FIFA men not to perform. It is as if the attitude now is that if they miss a big decision they have the luxury of reviewing the incident on VAR, this is leading to lazy refereeing in my opinion. Without any doubt if this system is to go forward we need to see officials from the same country taking control of the games. The guys who are up in the box need to know how the referee on the pitch manages a game. If they work together on a regular basis they will know each other inside out and know how each other tick and this will lead to the VAR system been used in a more tidier way. No disrespect here, but a referee sitting upstairs in a nice cosy room from Uzbekistan, can simply be not instructing a referee from say Germany, Italy or Spain as to what he thinks the referee might have missed in the game, after all he would not have refereed at the level those guys do.

So all in all it VAR has been very interesting, but I do feel there is a lot of work to be done before we can use it the World Cup Finals next year. It would be great if the officials can pull this together and finally get the big decisions correct, but let us also not forget that this system was brought in because the modern day players cheat and there is no question about that. I hope when it all comes together that we are singing the praises of VAR and that is all the supporters want.


Clattenburg Shows The Premier League a Red Card

It was announced quite recently that referee Mark Clattenburg is to step down as a Premier League official and take his talent to Saudi Arabia. Mark is moving to the Arab state to take up a role as boss of their referees. It is a role that has been vacated by another former Premier League official Howard Webb. The difference between Howard,s role and the new one that Mark has taken up, is the fact that Mark will be expected to officiate at games as well. The Saudi Arabian,s could not have got a better guy to take up the role. It is without doubt in my opinion, that over the past couple of seasons Mark has been the best referee in the World. I would be able to count on one hand the amount of mistakes he has made during games and this is what makes him so special. The reason behind that last statement  is because all officials make mistakes, but the top guys make the least. Last season Mark was the man who refereed the FA Cup Final, European Champions League Final and to cap a brilliant year he was also the man picked to take charge of the European Championship Final in France. These appointments were given to him as the men in charge of appointing referees to such games knew they would be safe in his hands. Let us not forget that he was also awarded the ultimate accolade when he was named World Referee of the year. It is a big disappointment for me to see Mark leave as I always loved to see him take charge of a game. The reason he is leaving is quite sad I believe, it has been reported that he has become disillusioned with the amount of support that Premier League officials are getting from their bosses and that has to be a right dig at Mike Reilly. No matter how good a referee Mark Clattenburg is, he would be well advised to remember it is the Premier League  that has helped him become the good official that he turned out to be,  as he heads off to the Saudi Arabian sunshine.

Now that the best referee in the Barclays Premier League is to move on, we have to look at who can replace him. Mike Reilly must be having sleepless nights as there is only one guy who comes anywhere near Mark and that is Martin Atkinson. There is no doubt that there will be a huge void left behind and it needs to be filled. Most people would agree with me that this season so far has been awful for officials and Kevin Friend was guilty of a disastrous display in the Manchester United and Bournemouth game. That game should have been an easy appointment but he had an awful performance. Mike Reilly needs to fast track someone up the ladder very fast so as controversies like the one at Old Trafford does not happen. Every top league needs at least four strong officials and sadly the Barclays Premier League falls way short on that criteria in my opinion. Between now and the end of this season I expect Martin Atkinson to get a lot of the top games, but this is not fair on him either as it leaves him open to huge criticism if things go wrong. It is now time that Mike Reilly and his team get their act together and get themselves a better quality of referee who can do it on a weekly basis.

I will miss Mark Clattenburg refereeing but not like Mike Reilly will, he no longer has the safety of knowing that appointing Mark to a game will end up controversy free. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Clatts all the best for his future and I hope things will work out him in his new venture. It now falls on the guys that are left behind to step up to the plate and take on the mantle of top referee in the country. The way they have performed so far this season is poor as I mentioned earlier and it could be a long time before we see the quality that Mark Clattenburg brought to a game when he was in charge.

By David Meier

Refereeing in The Modern Game

Over the years I have seen many top referees perform at the top level in various leagues. The likes of Philip Don, Keith Hackett, Pier Luigi Collina, Dermott Gallagher, Sandor Puhl, John Carpenter, Mario Van Der Ende and Jan Keizer have long since retired from the game but have left everlasting memories for all of us who love the part of the game which is called refereeing. When I think back to when these guys officiated I am reminded that they very rarely made mistakes and controversy was never really seen. The story in today's game is totally different and disappointing in my opinion. I have often asked myself how has it become so difficult and the answer that keeps coming back to me is the involvement on a huge scale by TV. Back in the day when all the guys I have mentioned were officiating there were not so many cameras in the grounds and pundits were not able to review things from every angle. Now I am not saying the guys back then got off lightly but at least they did not have to put up with been hammered week in and week out by former players who were sitting in warm studios analysing games. Football as we know moves on and over the years has got a lot faster and far more technical, a referees life has become so difficult these days as many players and coaches advocate winning at all costs. For my column this week I would like to have a look at two performances in the Barclay's Premier League. The men in question are Michael Oliver and Mike Jones who took charge of the Manchester United against Liverpool game and the clash in Wales between Swansea and Arsenal.

Mark Clattenburg in my opinion and indeed many others is the best referee in the world at the moment. I was rather surprised that he was not put in charge of the Manchester United game. The game was awarded to Michael Oliver and it made my Sunday much more interesting as I sat down to see not only how the game would go, but to see what sort of performance Michael would put in. What you have to remember about this actual fixture is the fact that it is played in a white hot atmosphere. It is imperative that the referee keeps a lid on things and shows himself to be in total control, this game can actually destroy a referee if it goes wrong. I need not have worried because in my opinion Michael had a brilliant game. From the moment he blew his first whistle Michael was in total control and let the players know it. His coolness to keep a lid on things was the making of his game. There were not a lot of big issues to call in the game but his decision to award Liverpool a penalty after Pogba handled was spot on. It was a brave call to make at Old Trafford but in my opinion it was the correct one. If I was to point out his only error it was when United equalised, Valencia was clearly in an offside position but Michael's assistant failed to flag. This can be so annoying for a referee who is having a blinder only to be let down by one of his team. In fairness the officials got away with it and I am glad they did, as in my opinion this was probably one of the best refereeing performances of the season.

Another referee who has come under the microscope this season has been Mike Jones. Unfortunately for Mike, controversy seems to follow him around and he does not help himself by adding fuel to an already hot fire by awarding some of the most strangest of decisions. Last Saturday week Mike took charge of the Swansea and Arsenal game. In the game he turned down a huge penalty call for Swansea and in my opinion on this occasion he got it correct. A lot of people will disagree with me including Swansea manager Paul Clement, but by not awarding the spot kick Mike highlighted an area where TV pundits have failed to address. When Ki Sung made contact with Arsenal defender Koscielny in the penalty area the official was correct not to award a spot kick, in fairness to the official his yellow card was excellent as well. There are far to many players in today's game that the moment they enter the penalty area they look to hit the ground. Mike was spot on with his decision and although it was once again controversy involving the official, this time I will back him to the hilt. Well done that man I say.

So there you have it, two totally different officials having superb games in my opinion. It in fact is great to report on, as it has been a rough couple of months for officials and let us hope the boys have got their acts together for the final couple of months of the season. I will be surprised though if we are not talking about more controversy in the not to distant future.

One Good One Bad - Ref Watch

Refereeing as we know is a very tough profession in today's modern game. It has often been claimed by many to be the impossible job. There are so many cameras in the ground now that every decision is highlighted and scrutinised by many pundit,s who sit in nice warm studios. These guys in my opinion are not really qualified to be passing comment on a trade they know very little about. If you look at Robbie Savage for example, let us be totally honest and say the only thing he knows about refereeing, is how to cause match officials lots of problems when he was on the field of play. Over the years I have had many discussions with players both past and present and not a lot of them know the rules of a game they play in every week. The main reason players take part in our beautiful game is to win and sometimes it is to win at all costs. When I took on this column for the website I decided it was not to slaughter officials, but I was keen to discuss issues in games where I felt they could have done things different. Over the past couple of week's I have watched plenty of games from around the world and for this article I would like to take a look at the performances of Lee Mason in the Arsenal against Stoke game and Paul Tierney who was in charge of a big clash in the Championship between Brighton and Leeds United.

Lee Mason in the big scheme of things did not really have a bad game in his handling of the Arsenal against Stoke game, but he did leave the field of play at the end of ninety minutes with a big talking point hanging over his head. His decision to award Stoke a penalty in the first half raised quite a few eyebrows and I have been asked by many of my friends as to why having awarded the penalty kick, he did not apply the full letter of the law. The incident I am looking at occurred in the twenty ninth minute of the game when Arsenal's Granit Xhaka caught Joe Allen of Stoke with an elbow in the face inside the penalty area. It was an excellent decision by the official to award the penalty but then to follow that up by not sending off the Arsenal player was ridiculous. In my opinion once Lee gave the penalty he should have sent off Xhaka for violent conduct. I have had numerous amount of former colleagues ask my opinion as to why the Arsenal player was not sent off and the only answer I can come up with is that the official bottled it. This is not something I say lightly as I would like to think that  there are referees not brave enough to give the big decisions. As I mentioned earlier, in my opinion the giving of the penalty was an excellent decision but all the good work was undone by not producing what I thought was a clear red card.

Arguably one of the biggest games of the month in the Championship was the clash between Brighton and Leeds United. You will not know this, but I am a big Leeds fan and never miss a game when they are on TV and over the years I have been to Elland Road on many occasions. I very rarely comment on officials who take charge of Leed United games, because as you know the heart can often rule the head, so I tend to just watch and enjoy the games involving my club. But I can not on this occasion let the official away without a mention. The man in question was Paul Tierney who in my opinion had one of the best games of the season so far. It was a game where Paul had two big penalty claims to call and got both correct. The first penalty in my opinion was a brilliant decision as he judged that Kalvin Phillips had handled a shot from Lewis Dunk that was going into the net. It was a great spot from the official as he could so easily have missed it from the angle he was looking at it. Top marks to Paul, and he did follow the letter of the law and sent off the Leeds player. The overall control by Paul during the whole ninety minutes was a joy to watch and I do not think he actually got anything wrong. His night was complete in the closing moments of the game when he awarded Brighton a second penalty for Leeds defender Bartley hanging onto Dunk in the penalty area. His awarding of both penalties were correct and it showed me how much the official was tuned in and on top of his game. As a Leeds fan I have no problem with the official on the night as I thought he had a great game. It is not very often you hear that from a fan who,s side have been beaten and had two penalties awarded against them.

Well there we have it, two all so different refereeing performances under the microscope and with so many different outcomes. If you sum it up, it has to be that Lee got it wrong and Paul got it perfectly correct. I will leave it there for this week but I am sure I will be back again soon as the refereeing performances stutter from bad to worse. Enjoy your football this week and let us hope we are not talking about a poor performance by an official involving a team which you may support. We have to live in hope. " Ciao "

Ah Come On Referee - Our new RefWatch column

Welcome to what I hope will be a regular column for the website. Each week I plan to look back at the previous weekend's referee errors and hoping to shed a little bit of light on the official,s failings. I will take in games from not only the Barclays Premier League but all around Europe as well.

For those of you who do not know my background let me fill you in. I was a referee in the Republic of Ireland for more than 20 years, officiating from junior level right up to European football. I have held a FIFA assistant referee,s badge and was involved in numerous games around Europe. In what is now known as the Airtricity League I refereed at the top level in this country. The plan with this column is just to bring the spotlight on the referees for you the fans. Each week I will have a look at two games and the referees involved.

This week the spotlight falls on Anthony Taylor who took charge of the biggest game of the weekend between Manchester City and Chelsea and Michael Oliver who was the man in the middle for the game at Goodison Park. So read on and let me below give my reaction to what I thought were poor performances by two FIFA referees who should have done better.

Anthony Taylor was the man in the middle for the Manchester City and Chelsea game, a match that would be watched all around the world. In my opinion he made a total mess of it and when the game erupted near the end with a twenty two man brawl he had to take a lot of responsibility for the melee. It was a game where it seemed to me he was simply not at the races.

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As a referee you need to get the big decisions and when Anthony failed to deal with a blatant foul by David Luiz on Aguero I just knew trouble would follow. It was a clear cut foul by the Chelsea defender and in my opinion the referee bottled it. In fact if you get a chance to look back at the action again, watch the referee,s reaction when the foul takes place, his hand clearly goes to his pocket as if he was going to get a card out, but in the end he did not even blow his whistle for a foul. On the day he also turned a stone wall penalty claim for City when Gundogan was taken down in the penalty area. These decisions had City incensed and I felt it would lead to problems and it came when Aguero went in waist high on Luiz and was correctly shown a red card. Players came from every direction to join in a mass brawl and Fernandinho was also shown a red card for putting his hand on Fabregas, s throat. In my opinion Cesc should have gone as well, due to the fact he got involved in a situation that was nothing to do with him, in fact he was also guilty of putting his hand on Fernandinho, I thought the Chelsea player behaved despicably in his effort to get his opponent sent off. At the very top level of football if a referee misses one big crucial decision he can end up in a lot of trouble and on Saturday that is exactly what happened to Anthony Taylor.

Twenty four hours later it was Everton and Manchester United's turn to take centre stage. The man given this game was Michael Oliver and in my opinion he did not fair much better than his colleague Anthony Taylor. The challenge by Rojo on Idrissa Gueye was a red card all day long and he only produced a yellow,  something everybody in the ground and those watching on TV could not understand as having given the free kick, a red card was expected to follow. The actual foul ticked all the boxes that are set down for referee's to try and help them get the correct decision in the end. It was an easy red card in my opinion, but the fact Michael did not produce one was astonishing. You are probably wondering what I mean by an easy red card, it is something referee's will say when there is no doubt in anyone,s mind that the player should have received his marching orders. Later on in the game there was an incident involving Seamus Coleman and Zlatan which the referee failed to deal with as well. As the players tussled Zlatan clearly kicked out at Coleman's head as they were on the ground, the referee stood off the incident and in my opinion should have jumped in to stop any messing. After the game Zlatan claimed he did not kick Coleman intentionally but it does not matter,  no matter what angle you look at it from, he did kick him and in my opinion like most people's he did it deliberately. So overall Michael missed two big incidents in the game and that is just not acceptable from a FIFA man.

There we have it, two huge games over the weekend refereed by FIFA officials who in my opinion had a bad day at the office. As the season goes on, we will have plenty more bad decisions by referee's and let us all hope that it will not involve a team you support or like most fans it will drive you crazy. Referee's need to up their games to a level were we do not see mistakes on a large scale, but I am not sure it will happen anytime soon. Until next week enjoy your football and do not let the officials upset you. " Ciao "

By David Meier

Former FIFA Assistant Referee.