Qatar 2022: FIFA snubs Nigerian referees in list of match officials

FIFA has once again snubbed Nigerian referees from officiating at the upcoming Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup set for November.

FIFA settled for eight referees from the continent to join a pool of 36 referees, 63 assistant referees, and 36 VAR officials for the global sporting event that will be held in the Arab world for the first time ever.

Although the final list of referees will be released a month before the World Cup begins, FIFA included Bakary Papa Gassama, a Gambian referee, as one of the eight African referees on the preliminary list.

Jean Jacques Ndala (DR Congo) and Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria) are among the African referees listed. The others are Redouane Jiyed (Morocco), Balmak Tessema (Ethiopia), Victor Gomez (South Africa), Janny Sikazwe (Zambia), and Maguette N’diaye (Senegal).

The majority of these referees officiated at the TotalEnergies 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which took place in Cameroon earlier this year. They will train for several months before the final list is published.

From inception in 1930 till date, no Nigerian referee has officiated at the world’s most prestigious football tournament.

Nigeria came close to breaking this trend in 2014, when Peter Egan Edibi, now a retired FIFA referee, was long-listed for the World Cup in Brazil. However, he did not make the shortlist due to what many perceived to be high-level politics in CAF and FIFA.

For this reason, NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, being part of the FIFA Council was believed to be beneficial to the chances of Nigeria making headway in these areas, where he was expected to make a push on the country’s behalf. It is unfortunate that the country is not reaping the benefits of his membership of the Council.

The 2022 World Cup will take place from November 21 to December 18, with Qatar taking on Ecuador in the opening match.

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