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Nigerian Referees Left Out of FIFA Women’s World Cup

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The FIFA Referees Committee has selected 27 referees and 48 assistant referees representing 42 different countries to officiate at the next year FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 with no Nigerian match official making the list.

However, seven match officials from Africa will officiate in the tournament, according to a statement on FIFA’s official website.

Ethiopia’s Lidya Tafesse Abebe, Zambia’s Gladys Lengwe and Rwandan Mukansanga Salima are the selected referees from Africa, while Bernadettar Kwimbira (Malawi), Mary Njoroge (Kenya), Lidwine Rakotozafinoro (Madagascar) and Victoire Queency are the shortlisted assistant referees.

The journey to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 began for an initial group of female referees and assistant referees from all over the world in September 2015, when FIFA officially started its Road to France 2019 women’s refereeing project.

Nigeria, who are the African champions, South Africa and Cameroon are the three African nations that qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019.

FIFA had earlier omitted Nigerian referees and assistant referees from the selected 36 referees and 63 assistant referees that officiated at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, so also the 15 referees and 30 assistant referees that handled FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup recently held in France.

As part of this project, preparatory seminars have taken place over the last three years for referees and assistant referees, focusing on protecting players and the image of the game, as well as on consistency in interpreting the Laws of the Game. Technical expertise, football understanding, fitness and the ability to read the game and teams’ tactical approaches to each match have been the main topics covered at these seminars.

The referees selected for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup, the most important competition in women’s sport, have demonstrated their skills at previous tournaments, including the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 and Uruguay 2018, as well as the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea in 2016 and this summer in Brittany, France.

Preparation will continue for the selected match officials between now and the start of France 2019. There will be a number of further preparatory seminars, while the FIFA referee instructors will carry out observation work and provide ongoing support and guidance. Every effort is being made to ensure that the officials will be 100 per cent ready for the big occasion.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 will be played from June 7 to July 7 in Grenoble, Le Havre, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Paris, Reims, Rennes and Valenciennes, with the final scheduled to take place in Lyon on Sunday, 7 July 2019.

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