The FIFA Referees’ Committee (FRC) on Monday, said it has reduced the number of match officials earlier slated for the final phase of the 2018 World Cup.
Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of the committee, told reporters in Moscow, that 12 referees, 26 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees (VARs) have now been selected for the final phase.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the phase, which include semi-finals, third-place and final stage matches, begin with the semi-finals on Tuesday in St. Petersburg.
“Given the fact that there are only four games left to play, the number of referees has been reduced again.
“Five referees and 11 assistant referees have been removed from the list we gave out after the second round.
“But the VARs, which are 10 in number, still remain as earlier selected for the final phase,’’ Collina said.
NAN reports that the committee had last Wednesday selected 17 referees, 37 assistant referees and 10 Video Assistant Referees (VARs) for the final phase of the tournament.
Collina however did not explain why the action was taken.
“I can only say it was all due to the number of matches remaining in the competition,’’ he said.
Collina added: “But at this point in time, the committee will like to thank all match officials who have been involved in the 2018 World Cup so far for their commitment and professionalism.’’
NAN reports that the semi-final matches will see France take on Belgium on Tuesday in St Petersburg, while Croatia will face England on Wednesday in Moscow.
The third-place match is slated for Saturday in St Petersburg, while the final match is billed for Sunday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
The new list of referees, from where match officials who would handle the final match of Sunday would be picked, has Alireza Faghani of Iran, Malang Diedhiou of Senegal and Mark Geiger of the U.S.
Others are Cesar Palazuelos of Mexico, Andres Cunha of Uruguay, Nestor Pitana of Argentina, Sandro Ricci of Brazil and Matthew Conger of New Zealand, Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey, Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands, Milorad Mazic of Serbia and Gianluca Rocchi of Italy.
Thirty six referees and 63 assistant referees were selected in March for the competition, alongside 13 VARs.
They were picked from the 53 groups of three referees placed under FIFA’s watch for the competition since September 2014.