Everyone must have noticed that FIFA changed (twice) the appointment of the fourth official for the match Brazil – Serbia, when Nawaf Shukralla (BHR) was initially replaced by Ravshan Irmatov (UZB) and then by Jair Marrufo (USA). According to Arbitrage57 and Arbitro Internacional, it was due to a controversial decision by FIFA who wanted to appoint Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (QAT) for Panama – Tunisia and then they had to replace him with Shukralla (BHR). Simon Lount (NZL) was also replaced by Tevita Makasini (TGA) as reserve AR in the game Colombia – England, but that was due to the fact that Lount was born and raised in England.
UEFA is the most influential confederation within FIFA. But Asia now has a say too. The Vice-Chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee is Qatari Hany Taleb. The latter, in consultation with Massimo Busacca, head of the FIFA refereeing department and Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, wanted to appoint Abdulrahman Al-Jassim to the match - without any stake - between Panama and Tunisia. There was a major problem: Al-Jassim does not appear on the list of 36 referees selected. The Qatari referee was invited to Russia only as a video assistant referee. The proposal was challenged by some members of the referees committee of the international body. What you need to know in order to fully understand this political maneuver is that Massimo Busacca is announced as director of refereeing in Qatar in the near future. Finally, the match between Panama and Tunisia was assigned to Bahraini referee Nawaf Shukralla, who can count on the strong support of Salman Al Khalifa, a native of Bahrain like him and who chairs the Asian Football Confederation since 2013 and who candidated for the FIFA presidency two years ago.