For the upcoming Russia 2018 world cup, FIFA has received a six-man list of African referees and support referees to officiate at the tournament – and, sadly, there’s no Nigerian on the list. But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to celebrate the lucky ones who were selected. After all, we’re one Africa.
So, to introduce the African referees, we at Konbini have compiled this list to guide you as you look out for them once the World Cup kicks off on June 14, 2018.
Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria)
36-year-old Charef has been a national referee in Algeria since 2005. He was made a FIFA referee in 2011. Regarded as a top-class referee, he has officiated at the CAF Under-20 Championships, and the AFCON. This year, he made the CAF Awards shortlist as referee of the year.
Malang Diedhiou (Senegal)
Diedhiou featured prominently at the 2015 AFCON. In April, he was used as a video assistant referee for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The 44-year-old is up for referee of the year at the CAF Awards. He has officiated in two Olympic Games, one international friendlies, and seven World Cup qualifiers.
Bakary Papa Gassama (Gambia)
Gassame became a FIFA referee in 2007. So far, he has made 74 appearances in 15 tournaments, including the 2014 World Cup. He was the only head referee from Africa at the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia in which Senegal’s Diedhiou took part as a video assistant referee. The Gambian has won the CAF Awards as referee of the year for three consecutive times in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Gehad Grisha (Egypt)
41-year-old Grisha is unarguably Egypt’s best goalkeeper. He became a FIFA-listed referee in 2008, and aside from officiating at the 2014 and 2015 AFCON, he also officiated 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. He was nominated as referee of the year at this year’s CAF Awards.
Janny Sikazwe (Zambia)
During the FIFA Club World Cup final in 2016, if you watched the moment Real Madrid player, Sergio Ramos, wasn’t sent off the pitch after committing two fouls deserving of an unapologetic red card, then there’s no way you don’t know Sikazwe – because he officiated that match.
The 38-year-old referee also officiated the final of the 2017 AFCON. Referred to as troublesome by some, Sikazwe has made 58 appearances in 12 events, including the 2015 Under-17 World Cup, this year’s Under-20 World Cup, and three AFCON tournaments. He’s also in line for referee of the year at the CAF Awards this year.
Weyesa Bamlak Tessema (Ethiopia)
Ethiopia’s Tessema became a FIFA referee in 2009. He has officiated in seven tournaments, most of which were organized by CAF. Nominated for referee of the year at the CAF Awards this year, the 37-year-old is also a medical researcher.