Officiating as Referee at the world stage is the ultimate dream of every arbiter. We at WokeAfrica celebrate distinguished Africans who beat obstacles to stand tall and as the world awaits specific roles for referees at the biggest footballing event in Russia this year, we take a look at the six appointed referees from our continent.
Malong Deidhiou (Senegal)
Senegalese referee and customs inspector, Lieutenant Colonel Malong is one of the African referees to watch out for in Russia. He was one of the officials at the Rio 2016 Olympics and handled the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup opener in UAE. Considering his wealth of experience, Malong was used as a video assistant referee during the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia and, he for sure will wake the footballing world to the rising status of African referees.
Bakary Papa Gassama (Gambia)
The award-winning referee is regarded by many as one of the best arbiters from the continent. Gassama 39, became a FIFA referee in 2007 and officiated at the 2012 Olympic tournament where he was the fourth official for the gold medal match between Brazil and Mexico. At the last World Cup in Brazil, Gassama was the centre referee in a group stage match between Netherland and Chile and the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.
Mehdi Abid Charef (Algeria)
The Constantine born referee is not new to the round leather game with over a decade of experience. A member of the Algerian Association Football Referees, Mehdi was in charge of the 2013 Africa Youth Championship finals and was one of the referees for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Gehad Grisha (Egypt)
The ex-international became a FIFA referee in 2008. He officiated at the 2013 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations as well as 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The Egyptian also served as a referee at the Rio 2016 Olympics and FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Janny Sikazwa (Zambia)
The Zambian referee is not a new face to Africans as he has featured in several matches including the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations final between Cameroon and Egypt. Sikazwa was in charge of the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup finals in Japan and also refereed in Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.
Weyesa Bamlak Tessema (Ethiopia)
The 37-year-old Ethiopian became a FIFA referee in 2009 and has gone ahead to officiate several football tournaments in the continent including the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.