Top official Al-Mirdasi ‘proud’ to represent KSA
officiated at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. “It is the first time that we have three Saudi match officials at the World Cup. Saudi referees have always done well abroad, and we are proud to represent the Kingdom at the biggest sporting event in the world.
“I am in constant communication with former World Cup referees from Saudi, and their experience helps me a lot. I train for two hours every day and I run 16 kilometers daily.”
Al-Mirdasi will become the fourth Saudi referee to officiate at the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Falaj Al-Shannar who was selected to referee the 1986 World Cup match between Italy and Bulgaria, becoming the first Saudi referee in the competition’s history.
Saudi referees returned to the global stage 12 years later, with Abdulrahman Al-Zeid taking charge of two games at the 1998 World Cup in France. Al-Zeid was also the fourth official at that year’s final between Brazil and hosts France.
Another 12 years passed before a Saudi referee appeared at the final again, Khalil Jalal officiating two group-stage matches at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Having previously taken charge of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup quarterfinal as well as matches in the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup, Al-Mirdasi is one of Asia’s most experienced referees.
“I expected to be at the World Cup as I have already refereed in key Asian and international competitions, and I know that FIFA always look at the quality of referees and their previous performances, so I knew they would be fair in their selection,” he said.
Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) President Adel Ezzat congratulated the three officials, adding that their selection was a testament to their capabilities and to the quality of Saudi referees.
“The three officials won FIFA’s trust after officiating at the highest levels of continental and international football,” said Ezzat in a statement published on the SAFF Twitter account. “It is a reward for them to be at the greatest of all football competitions. They deserve congratulations as they have earned their places among the elite of the refereeing world. To have three match officials at the World Cup is a great motivation for us at the SAFF to enhance our work in developing Saudi referees. I wish them success in Russia and we will be looking forward for them to do us proud.”
The 99-man match officials list for this summer’s World Cup includes five Arab referees: Bahrain’s Nawaf Shukralla, UAE’s Mohamed Abdulla, Egypt’s Gehad Grisha and Algeria’s Mehdi Abid, in addition to Al-Mirdasi. There were also nine Arab assistant referees representing Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Elsewhere in the list, there will be no British match officials at the World Cup for the first time since 1938 after current head of refereeing at the SAFF, Mark Clattenburg, forfeited his place in FIFA’s longlist which was published in 2016. Clattenburg was the only British referee on the list.