Top of­fi­cial Al-Mir­dasi ‘proud’ to rep­re­sent KSA

Arab News - - SPORTS -

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.

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