FIFA has a comprehensive process for selecting the best referees from around the world for the World Cup tournament, which involves multiple careful stages of evaluation and assessment.
FIFA starts the process normally a few years (2–3 years) before the World Cup tournament and nominates up to 50 refereeing trios to analyse and select as possible World Cup referee candidates.
Here is an overview of how FIFA selects referees for the World Cup:
National football associations and federations nominate their top referees to FIFA for consideration as the World Cup referees.
The nomination also includes female referees. The first representation of females in the World Cup was at the FIFA 2021 Qatar World Cup, where there were three female referees. It is expected that in the coming FIFA World Cup 2026, FIFA will increase the number of female referees.
FIFA aims to ensure that the selected referees represent a diverse range of regions and countries. As a result, there are typically quotas for each region, meaning that a certain number of referees will be selected from each continent. This helps to ensure that the World Cup officiating teams are balanced and representative.
FIFA reviews the nominated referees and analyze them in order to create a shortlist of potential World Cup referees. FIFA’s chief referee together with a 16-member committee plus a medical representative will select the final list.
Even after referees have been selected for the World Cup, FIFA continues to monitor their performance and fitness throughout the tournament. Referees are evaluated after each match, and those who consistently perform well may be selected for additional matches in later rounds.
FIFA conducts a rigorous fitness test to assess the physical fitness of potential referees. This test includes a series of running drills, such as sprints, endurance runs, and agility exercises.
FIFA evaluates the technical skills of potential referees through a series of assessments, including on-field evaluations during matches and video analysis of their performances.
FIFA evaluates the performance of potential referees over a period of several years, considering factors such as their consistency, accuracy, and ability to handle high-pressure situations.
Based on the results of these evaluations, FIFA’s Referees Committee selects the referees who will officiate at the World Cup. The committee takes into account factors such as the referee’s experience, fitness, technical skills, and ability to work effectively with assistant referees and video assistant referees.
The selection process for World Cup referees is usually very competitive, with only a small number of referees selected for the tournament. Referees who have consistently demonstrated their ability to officiate at the highest level of competition, who have a strong track record of performance, and who have excellent fitness, technical skills, and communication abilities, are more likely to be selected for the World Cup.
Interested in being a FIFA World Cup referee? Well, everyone can become a referee and try their best to be selected by FIFA for a World Cup; however, it could be challenging, but not impossible!