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Home >> Sports
UPDATED: 10:18, April 01, 2006
FIFA names just 23 referees for 2006 World Cup
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FIFA on Friday named just 23 referees to cover the 64 games of the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

A total of 36 referees officiated at the last World Cup in South Korea and Japan in 2002 and FIFA had been expected to choose around 30 from the 44 on the candidate list.

Instead, FIFA named a seven-strong group of "support" referees who will be present at the tournament but will only officiate in the event of another referee being unable to take charge of a match because of injury or illness, for example.

The 23 referees come from 23 different countries and include well-known figures such as Markus Merk of Germany and Lubos Michel of Slovakia.

Ten of the refs come from UEFA, five from South America, three from CONCACAF, two from Africa, two from Asia and one from Australia.

"The 33rd team at the World Cup -- the 23 referees who will be in action in Germany -- are currently the best match officials in the world," FIFA President Sepp Blatter said in a statement.

"That is the way it has to be as they will have a crucial role to play in this tournament, and great demands will be placed upon them."

The places of Frank De Bleeckere of Belgium and Carlos Batres of Guatemala in the 23-man team are subject to fitness tests, which they were unable to complete in Frankfurt because of injury.

In fact, none of the referees will be assured of their places until their regular assistants are passed fit.

Three assistants for each referee will attend a workshop in Frankfurt from April 18 to 21 and at least two of each group will have to complete a series of tests successfully.

If they fail to do so, the entire group, including the referee, will be replaced.

The World Cup begins on June 9 in Munich when hosts Germany play Costa Rica. The final is in Berlin on July 9.

Source: Xinhua


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