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Meet the referees for 2018 FIFA World Cup

2018 FIFA World Cup referees will be putting their day job aside for a month to officiate at the extravaganza in Russia next month.

football Updated: May 22, 2018 12:01 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
2018 FIFA World Cup,Football,World Cup
German referee Felix Brych has a PhD in law.(AFP)

An employee in a municipality, an owner of a hair studio, a lieutenant-colonel, a doctorate in law, an actor and a former maths teacher will put their day jobs on hold and head to Russia. Each will want to be there till the end of the World Cup and yet, to a person, they will not want to be noticed. Because only that guarantees job satisfaction for football referees.

Some like Alireza Fagnani, who works in a municipality, walked in their father’s footsteps. Uzbekistan’s Ravshan Irmatov was aspiring to be a coach --- after injury ended his football career when he was a teenager --- when he took up the whistle in a youth game because the referee didn’t turn up. Mark Geiger started refereeing when he was 13 because he wanted to earn a few dollars more and Szymon Marciniak began lessons after being shown the red card by a referee who asked him whether he could do any better.

A few of them such as Irmatov, Janny Sikazwe, Néstor Pitana and Matthew Conger are teachers. Pitana has also had a blink-and-you miss role in a film. Geiger used to school children in mathematics for 17 years before becoming a full-time ref. When he has the time, Geiger assists his brother who is a school cross-country coach. The much decorated Cüneyt Çakır sells insurance and Malang Diedhiou is with the customs department where he is a lieutenant-colonel. And Felix Brych has completed his PhD in law.

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Many of the players and coaches who bow to their authority are multi-millionaires and that doesn’t make the job of the referees, who could be paid up to $70,000 and $3000 as match fee according to goal.com and the website Quora, any easier. The pay packet is a raise from the $35,000-$50,000 they got in 2014.

2018 World Cup referees
AFC (Asia)
Al Mirdasi Fahad (KSA)
Faghani Alireza (IRN)
Irmatov Ravshan (UZB)
Mohamed Mohammed Abdulla (UAE)
Sato Ryuji (JPN)
Shukralla Nawaf Abdulla (BHR)
CONCACAF (North America)
Aguilar Joel (SLV)
Geiger Mark W. (USA)
Marrufo Jair (USA)
Montero Ricardo (CRC)
Pitti John (PAN)
Ramos Palazuelos Cesar Arturo (MEX)
CONMEBOL (South America)
Bascuñan Julio (CHI)
Caceres Enrique (PAR)
Cunha Andres (URU)
Pitana Nestor (ARG)
Ricci Sandro (BRA)
Roldan Wilmar (COL)
UEFA (Europe)
Brych Felix (GER)
Cakir Cüneyt (TUR)
Karasev Sergey (RUS)
Kuipers Bjorn (NED)
Marciniak Szymon (POL)
Mateu Lahoz Antonio Miguel (ESP)
Mazic Milorad (SRB)
Rocchi Gianluca (ITA)
Skomina Damir (SVN)
Turpin Clement (FRA)
CAF (Africa)
Abid Charef Mehdi (ALG)
Diedhiou Malang (SEN)
Gassama Bakary Papa (GAM)
Grisha Ghead (EGY)
Sikazwe Janny (ZAM)
Tessema Weyesa Bamlak (ETH)
OFC (Oceania)
Conger Matthew (NZL)
Hauata Norbert (TAH)

Alireza Fagnani (Iran)
Officiated in 2016 Olympics final. In 2017 Confed Cup final, he denied Chile a penalty ignoring VAR.
Malang Diedhiou (Senegal)
Is a customs inspector holding the rank of a Lieutenant Colonel.
Mark Geiger (United States)
Was a high school mathematics teacher for 17 years and got a presidential award for teaching in maths and science.
Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)
Studied business administration, owns supermarkets and a hair studio in hometown Oldenzaal.
Antonio Mateu Lahoz (Spain)
Known for his designer shades. Once he led a protest of passengers against a flight delay.
Milorad Mažić (Serbia)
Will referee the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool.
Néstor Pitana
(Argentina)

Physical Education teacher who has acted in a film.
Felix Brych
(Germany)

Doctorate in law specialising in sport.
Cüneyt Çakır
(Turkey)

Professional insurance agent.

So, like players and coaches, they often do their own quirky things as they get ready for a game. Part of Geiger’s preparations is throwing up. Brazil’s Sandro Ricci removes his wedding ring before every game and gives it four kisses. One each for the four most important women in my life: my mother, my wife and my two daughters, he told FIFA.com before the 2014 finals.

Soon after the names were announced, the referees attended a two-week preparatory camp in Coverciano, Italy. Getting ready for the World Cup is an almost two-year project during which they have to maintain fitness standards, meet diet requirements and stay up to speed with the laws. No one knows how many games they will get yet --- initial postings will be decided on June 4 after another seminar ---- but for each one this is a dream assignment. One where a nightmare is never far away.

First Published: May 22, 2018 12:00 IST