FIFA Club World Cup 2022 – Semi-finals

7 February 2023
Flamengo – Al Hilal
Referee: Istvan Kovacs (ROU, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Vasile Marinescu (ROU)
Assistant Referee 2: Mihai Artene (ROU)
Fourth Official: Mustapha Ghorbal (ALG)
VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)
AVAR: Redouane Jiyed (MAR)
OVAR: Mokrane Gourari (ALG)
SVAR: Jerome Brisard (FRA)

8 February 2023
Al Ahly – Real Madrid
Referee: Andres Matonte (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Nicolas Taran (URU)
Assistant Referee 2: Martin Soppi (URU)
Fourth Official: Ivan Barton (SLV)
VAR: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
AVAR: Juan Soto (VEN)
OVAR: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA)
SVAR: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)

CONMEBOL Libertadores 2023 – First Round (First Leg)

7-9 February 2023

Sport Huancayo – Nacional
Referee: Nicolas Gamboa (CHI, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Jose Retamal (CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Serrano (CHI)
Fourth Official: Jose Cabero (CHI)
VAR: Rodrigo Carvajal (CHI)
AVAR: Edson Cisternas (CHI)

Nacional Potosi – El Nacional
Referee: Yender Herrera (VEN)
Assistant Referee 1: Lubin Torrealba (VEN)
Assistant Referee 2: Alberto Ponte (VEN)
Fourth Official: Angel Arteaga (VEN)
VAR: Rafael Traci (BRA)
AVAR: Rodrigo Guarizo (BRA)

Boston River – Zamora
Referee: Wagner Magalhaes (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Rodrigo Correa (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Guilherme Camilo (BRA)
Fourth Official: Savio Sampaio (BRA)
VAR: Wagner Reway (BRA) 
AVAR: Daniel Nobre (BRA)

Match Officials on track for FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

The roads leading to FIFA World Cup competitions are long and winding for both teams and referees alike, especially when the competitions in question are held on the other side of the world. Launched in 2020, the Road to Australia and New Zealand project set out a road map for 170 match officials hoping to take part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup later this year. Three years on and with less than six months to go before the big kick-off, only 33 referees, 55 assistant referees and 19 video assistant referees will be heading Down Under. 
In preparation for the big event, some of them have just participated in seminars in the Qatari capital, Doha, while the rest will attend another to be held in Montevideo, Uruguay, later this month. “It is really a pit-stop on the road to Australia and New Zealand,” said Kari Seitz, FIFA Head of Refereeing, Women. “This is the moment where we bring everybody together and really fine tune it. So, you have to fill the gas tank, check the tyres… Think of it like a national team and they have their last training camp. We have already selected our players. These are our players for the World Cup. We have five months to get them completely at peak performance. And that’s what these seminars are about,” added Seitz. “We want to make sure that when they leave here, they have a clear path to be 100% ready in terms of fitness, 100% ready in terms of medical, and that they are very clear on our teachings from FIFA on how we want the matches to be considered and analysed and called.”
The first to head to Doha were match officials from UEFA for a four-day seminar running from 24 to 28 January. They have been followed by their counterparts from the AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa) and OFC (Oceania). Last but not least, representatives from Concacaf and CONMEBOL will head to the Uruguayan capital later in February. The drill is the same for all of them: fitness tests and preparation, recovery work, VAR, and theory sessions. “We monitor them all the time. We follow them. We offer them all the support they need,” said FIFA Referees Committee Chairman Pierluigi Collina. “These seminars are the occasion to work with them directly, to see them in person, to work on the field of play, to get some feedback from them, to make some evaluations of their fitness or their health conditions. In terms of theoretical lessons, we have many of them during the seminars, trying to go through all the most difficult incidents that could occur on the field of play.”
There is a real sense of excitement among the referees currently in Doha and a growing sense of anticipation as the tournament start date of 20 July approaches. As one of the attendees at the second seminar in the Qatari capital, Heba Sadieeh can vouch for that. The Palestinian referee will be on duty at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023, becoming the first person from her country ever to take part in a men’s or women’s World Cup. “To be the first Palestinian at the World Cup is a huge responsibility in terms of showing how much progress has been made in football, especially in refereeing,” she said. “I’m so happy to represent my country and all the women of west Asia. By being at a World Cup, I would like to inspire other women to become a referee.”
Assistant referee Fanta Kone of Mali has a challenge of her own on her hands, having given birth to twins. “After giving birth to my beautiful twins it’s not been easy at all, because it requires a lot of work,” she explained. “I created a plan with my husband and my department: the physical trainer and the director. I trained a lot and did a lot of hard work to maintain a good level of fitness. And I was appointed to matches in the men’s Malian First Division, big matches especially, and soon I’ll be at the World Cup.”

Source: FIFA

CAF African Nations Championship Final 2022: Atcho (GAB)

4 February 2023

Algeria – Senegal
Referee: Pierre Atcho (GAB, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Hensley Petrousse (SEY)
Assistant Referee 2: Adou N’Goh (CIV)
Fourth Official: Mahmood Ali (SDN)
Reserve AR: Ivanildo Lopes (ANG)
VAR: Haythem Guirat (TUN)
AVAR: Daniel Laryea (GHA)
OVAR: Mohammed Ibrahim (SDN)
Referee Assessor: Edzona Lawson-Hogban (TOG)

Geiger replaces Webb as head of MLS referees

Mark Geiger will take over from Howard Webb as the head of referees in Major League Soccer. The 48-year-old Geiger, who retired as a referee after the 2018 season, was promoted to general manager of the Professional Referee Organization that supplies MLS match officials.
Geiger started as a MLS referee in 2004 and officiated 186 regular-season games and the 2014 MLS championship. He worked three games at the 2014 World Cup, becoming the first American to referee a knockout stage match when he officiated France’s round of 16 victory over Nigeria. Geiger worked three more games at the 2018 World Cup, including England’s round of 16 win over Colombia, and was the VAR for five matches. Geiger was hired as PRO’s director of senior match officials in 2019. Webb, referee of the 2010 World Cup final, became PRO’s manager of video assistant referee operations in 2017 and succeeded Peter Walton as PRO’s general manager in January 2018. Webb refereed in the Premier League from 2003-14. He said last August he was leaving at the end of the season to become chief refereeing officer of the Professional Game Match Officials, which is responsible for the officiating in England. He took over from Mike Riley, who had been PGMO’s managing director for 13 years.

Source: AP

FIFA Club World Cup 2022 – Second Round

4 February 2023

Wydad Casablanca – Al Hilal
Referee: Ivan Barton (SLV, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: David Moran (SLV)
Assistant Referee 2: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA)
Fourth Official: Andres Matonte (URU)
VAR: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)
AVAR: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
OVAR: Martin Soppi (URU)
SVAR: Juan Soto (VEN)

Seattle Sounders – Al Ahly
Referee: Anthony Taylor (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Gary Beswick (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Adam Nunn (ENG)
Fourth Official: Ma Ning (CHN)
VAR: Jerome Brisard (FRA)
AVAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
OVAR: Mokrane Gourari (ALG)
SVAR: Redouane Jiyed (MAR)

Referee Ma Ning announces VAR decision to public at Club World Cup

The first instance of a referee sharing his decision on the microphone for the benefit of the stadium crowd happened in the very first match of the 2023 FIFA Club World Cup between Al Ahly and Auckland City.
Referee Ma Ning had the honour, and the VAR check and video review occurred in stoppage time. Ning had awarded Al Ahly a penalty kick after a wild Auckland challenge near the top of the penalty area. But the VAR suggested a review, and after seeing the video, Ning reversed his decision, noting the foul was actually outside the penalty area. For that reason, he changed the penalty to a free kick, but he also gave Auckland centre-back Adam Mitchell a red card for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO). The stadium's audio sound system wasn't terribly sharp and it was hard to make out Ma Ning's words, but history was nonetheless made.

FIFA Club World Cup 2022 – First Round

1 February 2023

Al Ahly – Auckland City
Referee: Ma Ning (CHN, photo)
Assistant Referee 1: Zhou Fei (CHN)
Assistant Referee 2: Zhang Cheng (CHN)
Fourth Official: Istvan Kovacs (ROU)
Reserve AR: Vasile Marinescu (ROU)  
VAR: Juan Martinez Munuera (ESP)
AVAR: Fu Ming (CHN)
OVAR: Nicolas Taran (URU)
SVAR: Fernando Guerrero (MEX)

Umpierrez retired: "I do not feel respected as a professional or even as a person"

Claudia Umpierrez retired from refereeing after two decades of career. The 40-year-old referee, an international since 2010, recovered from a cruciate ligament injury and was ready to referee again, but she was not invited to the pre-season like the rest of her colleagues and interpreted the message: they did not want her anymore. In fact, she was ignored in the last year and a half. Today, 14 years after her international debut, Umpierrez wrote a letter on her Instagram account explaining her reasons and regretting that she was “not given the opportunity to retire on the field despite having trained hard to return. I do not feel respected as a professional or even as a person and I have stopped feeling part of this group, of which I knew how to feel proud some time ago," added Umpierrez, who was removed in March 2021 from the Women's Copa Libertadores due to a complaint that, months later, was dismissed by the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF).
The December 2020 elections in the Uruguayan Association of Football Referees (AUDAF) marked a break. Umpierrez lost by five votes to Yimmy Alvarez and by 2021 almost all those referees who made up the group opposing the current leadership were demoted. “The last three years have been hard, full of sad moments, personal and professional, but they have also been full of personal growth and professional development in other areas of my life. Today I decide to prioritize myself and continue in the places that make me happy, where I feel that I can progress and grow and, above all, where I can do that in a climate of respect and camaraderie”, she added. “That is why I have decided to step aside, put an end to my career, because I am no longer happy being part of the refereeing world and this is my limit. The events that have occurred in recent years have been demotivating for me and for many others who do not dare to say anything and choose to remain silent. I am aware of where I want to be, and that side of life today does not coincide with that of the current authorities of the AUF and the Referees Committee. It is no longer worth fighting for things that the refereeing group has resigned, accepted, and tolerated as normal. Incapacity, lack of work, and promotions not obtained on their own merits have been normalized. All of this is very far from the reality of the professionalism that I have always aspired to for refereeing in my country", she added, wishing good luck to her teammates "who are not part of the club of friends", as well as reminding others that "being indifferent in the face of injustices and staying silent makes them one of them”.


New UEFA referees given sound career advice

A group of 34 male and 12 female officials from across Europe, who have earned their international badges through their performances at domestic level, have been prepared for this challenging new stage of their fledgling refereeing journey at the latest UEFA introductory course in Rome. In addition to fitness training, practical sessions, discussion group work and learning the ropes about UEFA’s refereeing guidelines, the referees heard crystal clear words of wisdom from former international referees that were designed to give them the recipe for success and prime them for what UEFA expects from them as top match officials and representatives of European football both on and off the field.
‘Savour the honour’
In welcoming the new referees to their duties, UEFA chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti – who took charge of the UEFA Euro 2008 final between Spain and Germany in Vienna – encouraged them to savour the honour of joining the European refereeing family. “This is one of the moments in your refereeing career that you’ll never forget – you should be proud,” he said. “The facts prove that European referees are the best in the world. They’ve set very high standards. We must maintain these standards. You’re the best young referees in your country – now you’re starting afresh at UEFA level.” Rosetti urged the referees to show dedication and strive for the heights on their refereeing pathway. “Learn more, do more, become more from today,” he reflected. “Think of the top referees – you have to learn from them and take the best from them if you want to emulate them in a few years’ time. Aim for the highest peaks. But always remember that talent is not enough. You need strong motivation and dedication – you have to constantly ask yourself ‘do I want to get to the top?’ Work hard – when you see the referees who have reached the summit, you have to know that this is the result of the hard work that they’ve done.”
‘Believe in yourself’
Björn Kuipers is now a UEFA refereeing officer after a distinguished career that saw the Dutchman referee the 2014 UEFA Champions League final, two UEFA Europa League finals in 2013 and 2018, and the UEFA Euro 2020 final. “You can’t reach the top without belief and trust in yourself,” he said. “Be strong, be courageous when you take decisions and show personality. Be prepared in every single way - You can’t win if you’re not prepared – analyse the teams, playing systems, the key players. Learn to use body language as a skill. Look after your fitness – you’ll be respected if you look fit and strong. If you make a mistake, don’t dwell on it – move on and close the door on the mistake.” Kuipers emphasised that future success was in the referees’ hands. “You have to do your job with passion. You’re here because it’s your passion. Success is the result of hard work. Just do it… and if you do it, dreams really can come true.”
Ambassadors and diplomats
The course in Rome also gave UEFA the opportunity to remind the referees of their crucial role as both footballing ambassadors and diplomats, as well as the behaviour that is expected from refereeing teams on their assignments. Guest speaker David Elleray, a former international referee from England who took charge of important matches at home and abroad, explained to the referees that their responsibilities at international level were greater than in domestic football. “International refereeing for UEFA is more than just 90 minutes,” he said. “You play an important role. You’re representing a senior organisation and leading a team.” Elleray advised the referees about the need for exemplary conduct when on a UEFA mission. “Anything that you do can be photographed and quickly put on the Internet,” he reflected. “You don’t know who is watching you and listening to you. Be careful who you talk to – and how you talk. Watch your bearing and appearance, especially at airports, because you will be noticed. You’re expected to be someone with 100% honesty, someone who can be respected and trusted. Don’t tolerate anything that is dishonest, unethical, corrupt, or dubious. Report it to UEFA to help eradicate corruption within football. Your integrity as a referee must never be in doubt.”

Source: UEFA