World Cup: Who are the referees in Qatar and how were they picked?

FIFA have appointed 36 referees from 31 different nations – including three female officials for the first time ever – with England represented by Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver… so who are the men and women in the middle in Qatar?

  • FIFA have appointed 36 referees take charge of the group stages in Qatar 
  • Those who impress will be retained for the knockout stages of the tournament
  • England will be represented by two referees – Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor
  • The World Cup will also be the first to have three female referees officiating 
  • Each of the six FIFA governing bodies will be represented at the competition 
  • Click here for the latest World Cup 2022 news, fixtures, live action and results

With the 2022 World Cup less than a week away each of the 32 participating nations have finally submitted their 26-man squads – which have definitely raised some eyebrows.

But it is not only the playing squads that have grabbed the headlines, as FIFA have already named the 36 referees that will be officiating at the tournament, including three female referees and three female assistant referees for the first time.

Selecting a refereeing team for a major tournament comes with just as many trials and tribulations as choosing your 26 best players, and there are several criteria that the selection must meet.

In a process that began three years ago, over 50 refereeing trios were analysed, before selecting the final 36, and although a 16-person board selects the best officials there are several geographical considerations taken on board.

From Germany to Guatemala, there will be 31 nations represented at the tournament with Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver representing England in Qatar.

Here, Sportsmail takes a deep dive on those who will be dishing out the cards and visiting the pitch-side monitors at the 2022 World Cup.

Michael Oliver will represent England at his first World Cup later this month in Qatar

Abdulrahman Al Jassim – representing the home nation – may not be a name that is on everyone’s lips ahead of the tournament, but he does have plenty of experience at the top level.

Al Jassim was part of the trio of officials overseeing Liverpool’s 1-0 Club World Cup win over Flamengo in 2019, and was a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in Russia 2018. He has also refereed the AFC Champions League final in 2020.

Abdulrahman Al Jassim officiated during Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Flamengo back in 2019

Ivan Barton, El Salvador

The third-youngest referee at the tournament, and one of three Central Americans to be appointed to the World Cup’s refereeing team Ivan Barton, 31, is a veteran of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup and the 2017 U-17 World Cup that saw the rise of Phil Foden and Co.

Off the field, Barton has a degree in Chemical Sciences from the University of El Salvador and has since been named a professor at the university despite becoming a FIFA referee in 2018.

Ivan Barton, the third-youngest referee at the tournament, has a degree in Chemical Sciences

Chris Beath, Australia

Chris Beath will make up half of the representatives from Oceania in Qatar, but the A-League referee has officiated in some huge games, including the Olympic Gold Medal match in Tokyo between Brazil and Spain in Tokyo, and Chelsea’s Club World Cup win against Palmeiras in 2021.

Beath was one of the inaugural VARs in the A-League – one of the first divisions to use the controversial technology – and has also spent time in Japan overseeing games in the J-League.

Chris Beath took charge of Chelsea’s Club World Cup final meeting with Brazil’s Palmeiras

Raphael Claus, Brazil

Raphael Claus is one of seven CONMEBOL referees who will be part of the Qatar World Cup, and at 43-years-old will be one of the more experienced officials. 

As such he has refereed at international competitions already in his career, including the 2021 Copa America – notably Lionel Messi’s first major honour with Argentina – and the 2019 U-19 World Cup that saw Erling Haaland net nine times against Peru.  

Raphael Claus at the age of 43 is one of the most experienced referees at the World Cup

Matthew Conger, New Zealand

Texan-born Matthew Conger is the second of two Oceanian referees at the tournament and he brings experience from the previous tournament to Qatar, overseeing Iceland’s 2-0 defeat by Nigeria.

The New Zealand referee was also a full-time teacher until 2016, and won his country’s referee of the year award the following year.

Matthew Conger of New Zealand was a full-time teacher until 2016 but brings in plenty of experience having refereed at the 2018 World Cup

Ismail Elfath, USA

American referee Ismail Elfath was born in Morocco but has been an MLS official for more than a decade, and became FIFA-listed in 2016.

After being named MLS referee of the year in 2020, Elfath went on to officiate in three games at the Tokyo Olympics, and was one of three CONCACAF referees sent to Cameroon for the 2021 AFCON tournament held earlier this year.

Ismail Elfath has refereed in the MLS for over a decade and was one of three CONCACAF referees at the 2021 AFCON tournament 

Mario Escobar, Guatemala

Liga Nacional de Futbol de Guatemala referee Mario Escobar is another to have earned their stripes at 2019’s U-17 World Cup in Brazil, and in the same year was chosen to referee in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, taking charge of the final between Mexico and USA.

Since then he has also overseen the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League Final and is a regular referee in the second-tier continental tournament, the CONCACAF League. 

Guatemala’s Mario Escobar goes to the tournament as one of three Central American referees

Alireza Faghani, Iran

Iranian referee Alireza Faghani is a name that many England players and fans alike will remember with chagrin as the official to take charge of the drab third-place play-off match in 2018 between the Three Lions and Belgium.

One of the most experienced referees at the tournament this time around, Faghani has four World Cup, four Club World Cup, three Olympic and seven AFC Asian Cup matches under his belt.

Alireza Faghani was in charge for England’s defeat by Belgium in the 2018 World Cup third-place play-off match

Stephanie Frappart, France

Stephanie Frappart is the first of a pair of French referees and won three successive IFFHS World’s Best Woman Referee titles between 2019 and 2021, becoming the first woman to oversee both a Ligue 1 game and a Champions League clash.

In another first, Frappart become the first woman to referee a World Cup qualifier, doing so in Holland’s meeting with Latvia in 2021, and took charge of the 2022 Coupe de France final in her home country.

Stephanie Frappart won three IFFHS World’s Best Woman Referee titles from 2019 to 2021

Bakary Gassama, Gambia 

Gambian official Bakary Gassama is another experienced referee at World Cup level, having been part of both the 2014 and 2018 tournaments in Brazil and Russia respectively. 

FIFA-listed since 2007, the 43-year-old has 15 years of games at the top level to his name, and has overseen games at the 2012 Olympics, AFCON and CAF Champions League, giving out only five straight red cards in 136 games.  

Bakary Gassama comes in with plenty of experience having refereed at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups

Mustapha Ghorbal, Algeria

Mustapha Ghorbal will be making his World Cup debut next week but has refereed in three Club World Cup games as well as the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland and the 2021 AFCON tournament in Cameroon.

Ghorbal has refereed club football in three different African nations, but may be one to watch as he has a record of showing 783 yellow cards in 204 games in his career – an average of almost four a game (3.83). 

Mustapha Ghorbal, who averages 3.83 yellow cards a game, will be making his World Cup debut next week

Victor Gomes, South Africa

South Africa’s representative at the Qatar World Cup will be Victor Gomes, a referee who has been a fixture of African football in recent years with seven appearances at AFCON tournaments and seven more at African World Cup qualifiers.

Gomes was celebrated in his home country after reportedly turning down a R300,000 bribe (£14,600) ahead of a CAF Confederations Cup clash between Nigeria’s Plateau United and USM Alger of Algeria and has twice won the PSL Referee of the year. 

Victor Gomes was celebrated in South Africa after reportedly turning down a near-£15k bribe

Istvan Kovacs, Romania

Istvan Kovacs has a wealth of European refereeing experience, haven taken charge at each of Euro 2020, the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League, UEFA Nations League and several European Championships qualifiers. He oversaw last year’s Conference League final after receiving praise for his use of advantage in Manchester City’s semi-final first leg with Real Madrid the same year.

In total, Kovacs has overseen 456 games and handed out a staggering 2415 yellow cards, 76 straight reds and 141 penalties, meaning that whichever games the Romanian is put in charge of will surely be full of action and talking points. 

He was also the man in charge of Thomas Tuchel’s last ever match as Chelsea manager – showing the German a yellow card as the Blues fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at Dinamo Zagreb. 

Istvan Kovacs was in charge for Thomas Tuchel’s last ever game as Chelsea manager

Ma Ning, China

Chinese referee Ma Ning may not be quite so well-known as some of the other referees in Qatar, but the 43-year-old has seen plenty of action in both Asian continental club football and the Asian Cup as well.

He received heavy backlash after sending off three Shanghai Shenhua players in a Shanghai derby with Shaghai SIPG in 2015, and was himself thrown to the ground by Henrique Dourado in a Chinese Super League game last summer, resulting in a 12-month ban for the Brazilian. 

Ma Ning has been a listed FIFA referee since 2011 but has had two notable controversial moments

Danny Makkelie, Holland

Dutch referee Danny Makkelie is perhaps one of the best-known referees currently in the game, despite never having been appointed to a World Cup. He has overseen 40 Champions League games, and was the VAR in the 2019 final, as well as taking charge of the 2020 Europa League final.

Makkelie is instantly recognisable to English fans as the man who awarded the controversial penalty to the Three Lions in their semi-final meeting with Denmark in 2021’s European Championships – a decision that received backlash from his superiors despite backing from his VAR colleagues.

Danny Makkelie is one of Europe’s most experienced referees with more than 40 Champions League appearances

Szymon Marciniak, Poland

One of his nation’s best referees, Szymon Marciniak is preparing to take charge in just his second World Cup, having overseen group stage matches for both Argentina and Germany at the 2018 competition in Russia. 

The 41-year-old also oversaw games at Euro 2016 in France as well as the 2018 UEFA Super Cup meeting between arch-nemeses Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. 

Marciniak is a veteran of 548 matches, 39 of which have come in the Champions League. 

Szymon Marciniak refereed the recent Champions League game between Marseille and Tottenham at the Velodrome stadium

Said Martinez, Honduras

The second-youngest referee at the tournament, 31-year-old Said Martinez has already racked up an impressive 123 games at both club and international level in several countries.

Martinez officiated in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup final between USA and Mexico, but the 2022 World Cup will be his biggest success to date, having only been made an official FIFA referee in 2017.

Said Martinez, 31, is the second-youngest referee at the World Cup, having only been made an official FIFA referee in 2017

Antonio Mateu, Spain

Spain’s sole referee at the tournament will be Antonio Mateu who, at 45-years-old, prepares to officiate at his second World Cup, having overseen two matches in Russia four years ago.

Known as a chatty referee, the Spaniard took charge of Chelsea’s Champions League final win in 2021 over Man City, as well as three group stage clashes at Euro 2020 as Spain’s most well-known referee at elite level.  

Antonio Mateu was a ref at Russia 2018 and also took charge of three matches at Euro 2020

Andres Matias Matonte Cabrera, Uruguay

Uruguay’s 34-year-old Andres Matias Matonte Cabrera will make his first major international tournament debut at the World Cup in Qatar, just five years after taking charge of his first Uruguayan league game in 2017.

He has already overseen two qualifiers for the tournament, officiating Ecuador’s clash with Paraguay and the match between Bolivia and Paraguay, as well as three games in the FIFA Arab Cup in 2021, almost a year ago in Qatar.  

Andres Matias Matonte Cabrera is set to make his first major international tournament debut

Mohammed Abdulla Mohammed, UAE

Mohammed Abdulla Mohammed will represent Qatar’s near-neighbours the United Arab Emirates at the upcoming tournament, which will likely be his last at 43 years of age.

The Emirati football referee has however already represented his nation on the stage of football’s greatest tournament, having been appointed a member of the refereeing team for the last tournament, and took charge of the 2017 AFC Cup final in Tajikistan.

Mohammed Abdulla Mohammed will represent the United Arab Emirates at the World Cup

Salima Mukansanga, Rwanda 

Rwanda’s Salima Mukasanga is the second of three female referees who will be making history at the 2022 World Cup, after having become the first to do so at the AFCON tournament earlier this year.

Mukansanga is perhaps best remembered for showing six cards as Zimbabwe beat Guinea 2-1, and adds both competitions to an Olympic games and the 2019 Women’s World Cup to make an impressive CV at just 34-years-old.

Salima Mukansanga took charge of Zimbabwe’s win over Guinea at AFCON 2022 in Cameroon

Maguette N’Diaye, Senegal

With only 51 games to his name, Maguette N’Diaye is perhaps one of the least experienced referees who will go to Qatar, but is fast becoming established in his home continent. 

N’Diaye has already taken names at each of the Club World Cup, AFCON and CAF Confederations Cup, as well as officiating in four qualifiers for this tournament, dealing with several of Africa’s biggest names from the likes of Ghana, Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa.  

Maguette N’Diaye is one of the least experienced referees at the tournament having only taken charge of 51 games

Michael Oliver, England

One half of England’s refereeing contingent making the trip to Qatar is Michael Oliver – a name well-known to English football fans and supporters of European sides alike given his 26 appearances in the Champions League. 

One of UEFA’s Elite referees since 2018, Oliver has taken charge of games at Euro 2020, each of Europe’s three continental competitions at club level, and overseen matches at all three levels of professional football in England, but takes charge at his first World Cup later this month.  

Michael Oliver has been one of UEFA’s Elite level referees for four years now since 2018

Daniele Orsato, Italy

Italy’s Daniele Orsato won the IHFFS award for best male referee of the year in 2020, and has been one of Europe’s top officials for a number of years, overseeing some 46 Champions League ties.

He goes to his first World Cup this month as a referee, but has a long record at the highest level officiating at Euro 2020, taking charge of the 2020 Champions League final between PSG and Bayern Munich, and 263 Serie A matches.

Champions League regular Daniele Orsato won the IHFFS award for best male referee of the year in 2020

Kevin Ortega, Peru 

Kevin Ortega is the youngest of all 36 referees to go to Qatar at just 30 years of age, but he has already officiated at the Tokyo Olympics and is regularly used in the Copa Libertadores. 

He was the centre of controversy earlier this year after he was found in possession of several Boca Juniors shirts in his bag after overseeing a 1-0 win for the Argentinian side against Bolivia’s FC Always Ready, with the Police seizing his property although Boca insisted that it was a regular gesture ahead of games.  

Cesar Ramos, Mexico 

Mexico’s 38-year-old Cesar Ramos is his nation’s sole referee for Qatar 2022, where he will officiate at his second World Cup, one of many to have been retained following the 2018 tournament.

He has also refereed at the Club World Cup, 2015, 2017 and 2021 Gold Cups, AFC Asian Cup in 2019 and the Tokyo Olympics, as well as over 100 games in the Mexican top flight.

Cesar Ramos is one of may refs to have been retained having worked at the 2018 World Cup

Fernando Rapallini, Argentina

Fernando Rapallini is not only one of South America’s leading match officials, but has also been recognised around the world for his assured performances in charge of fixtures across his home continent.

Rapallini was also the first ever South American to take charge of a European Championships match, doing so in the round of 16 clash that saw Switzerland knock-out pre-tournament favourites France in Bucharest.  

Fernando Rapallini took charge of Switzerland’s win over France in last year’s Euro 2020

Wilton Sampaio, Brazil

Brazil’s second official at the tournament will be 40-year-old Wilton Sampaio, who has been a FIFA listed referee since 2013 and looks to make his first appearance at the tournament this winter.

Sampaio does have experience at the top level, though, having been appointed to both the 2019 and 2021 Copa America tournaments, and racking up 53 appearances across both the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana, as well as a role at the FIFA Arab Cup last year.  

Wilton Sampaio has been a FIFA listed referee since 2013 but will make his first appearance at a World Cup

Daniel Siebert, Germany 

Berlin-born 38-year-old referee Daniel Siebert will make his World Cup debut this winter, despite becoming one of the most well-respected referees from Europe in recent years.

Having spent much of his early career doing the rounds of the German regional divisions, Siebert has since made more than 250 appearances across both of his home country’s top three professional leagues.

With 25 refereeing showings in Europe’s three continental club competitions, Sierbert’s is a name that many fans across the continent will be familiar with, and he was a member of the refereeing contingent to oversee clashes at last summer’s delayed Euro 2020 tournament, taking charge of three games in total.

Daniel Siebert has 11 Champions League games to his name and will also make his World Cup debut

Janny Sikazwe, Zambia 

Zambian official Janny Sikazwe has been retained as one of FIFA’s World Cup referees after taking charge of two matches at the tournament in Russia four years ago, officiating Belgium’s clash with Panama and Japan’s meeting with Poland.

However, he came in for high-profile criticism for incorrectly blowing the final whistle not once, but twice in the delayed 2021 AFCON tournament in Cameroon as Tunisia took on Mali, which was later put down to heatstroke.  

Janny Sikazwe was roundly criticised for twice blowing for time early at the 2021 AFCON

Anthony Taylor, England 

England’s second official in Qatar will be Anthony Taylor, who like Oliver will be going to his first tournament later this month, but is already a well-established figure in European football. 

In 2020 he became the first man to take charge of two FA Cup finals in 119 years, and received praise for his actions in Denmark’s group stage meeting with Finland in Copenhagen at Euro 2020.

When Christian Eriksen collapsed in the 43rd minute, Taylor’s handling of the situation was hailed after his quick and calm decision to signal for medical attention after swiftly understanding the gravity of the issue, with the Manchester United midfielder needing emergency support before being transferred to hospital. 

Taylor then oversaw the final of the 2021 Nations League, when France took on Spain, with the former winning 2-1 on the night at the San Siro in Milan, and the 44-year-old will hope to take that continental experience with him to the international stage.  

Anthony Taylor takes charge at his first World Cup later this month

Facundo Tello, Argentina

Argentina are another nation to send two referees to the tournament later this month, and their second offering is 40-year-old Facundo Tello who will be making his competition debut. 

Tello made headlines earlier in November where he brandished an unprecedented 10 red cards in Argentina’s Champions Trophy final meeting between Boca Juniors and Racing Club, with the match finishing early as Boca had too few players on the pitch to continue. 

Facundo Tello is one of two Argentinian refs officiating at the World Cup in the coming weeks

Clement Turpin, France 

France’s second official will be Clement Turpin, who is returning after officiating at Russia 2018 to make his second World Cup appearance after becoming one of European football’s most recognisable referees.

Turpin also took charge of two Euro 2020 games, as well as the 2022 Champions League final, 2021 Europa League final and brings the experience of more than 500 matches to Qatar.

Clement Turpin has refereed over 500 games including the 2021 Champions League final

Jesus Valenzuela, Venezuela 

After being awarded 2021’s award for the best referee from the CONMEBOL federation, Jesus Valanzuela goes to the Qatar World Cup as Venezuela’s representative on the world stage.

The 38-year-old arrives at the tournament the veteran of two consecutive Copa America competitions, and has 50 refereeing appearances across both South American continental club competitions to his name, as well as three Olympic matches.

Jesus Valanzuela goes to the World Cup as Venezuela’s representative on the world stage

Slavko Vincic, Slovenia 

Slovenia’s sole referee in Qatar will be Slavko Vincic, who has amassed 41 games across the Champions League and Europa League, including taking charge of last season’s Europa League final between Rangers and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Vincic was a referee at the delayed Euro 2020 tournament, as well as officiating across the top three tiers of the UEFA Nations League, but only makes his first appearance at the World Cup despite being a FIFA registered official for 12 years.

Slavko Vincic has amassed 41 games across the Champions League and Europa League

Yoshimi Yamashita, Japan

The third and final female official at this year’s World Cup is Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan, having already become the first woman to referee in the AFC Champions League and the J-League in her home country.

Yamashita only has 39 refereeing credits to her name, but has already taken charge in each of Japan’s top three flights of professional football – as well as in the Emperor’s Cup – and has been chosen to officiate in both the AFC Cup and AFC Champions League, as well as two international friendlies, so she nonetheless comes into the tournament with plenty of experience. 

Yoshimi Yamashita has only taken charge of 39 games in her refereeing career despite being appointed to the World Cup

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