ZURICH: World federation FIFA’s referees committee has named the 36 referees and 63 assistants from 46 countries who must take on the challenge of bringing video assistance to the World Cup finals in Russia.

Not one English official is among them, for the first time since the home countries returned to FIFA and entered the World Cup in 1950.

Mark Clattenburg would have been in the list but he decided to quit the Premier League and European football last year to take up a refereeing supremo’s role in Saudi Arabia.

Sergey Karasev is the first Russian official selected for a World Cup since the 2006 finals. Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan will work at his third World Cup and should extend his nine-game tournament record.

Preparations kicked off in September 2014 with an initial group of 53 referee trios from around the world and the subsequent choice of final group was based, according to FIFA, “on each referee’s skills and personality, as well as his level of understanding of football and ability to read both the game and the various tactics employed by teams.”

A FIFA statement added:

Preparatory seminars have taken place for referees and assistant referees focusing on fair play, protecting players and the image of the game, as well as consistency and uniformity.

The selected FIFA World Cup match officials will attend another dedicated seminar for two weeks in the second half of April at the technical centre of the Italian Football Association in Coverciano, Italy.

The officials will be divided into two groups, which will also include video assistant referee (VAR) candidates.

Following this seminar, the FIFA Referees Committee will announce the names of the referees selected to act as VARs [taking] into account the candidate’s VAR experience in domestic leagues, FIFA competitions and FIFA refereeing seminars since the beginning of the VAR project in 2016.

Between now and the World Cup in June, the selected referees, assistant referees and VARs will be monitored and supported by FIFA Refereeing on an individual basis to ensure they are fully prepared.

Following the seminar in Coverciano, all of the match officials will take part in a final preparatory seminar at the FIFA World Cup match officials’ HQ in Moscow, which will start 10 days before the tournament kicks off.

This seminar will also cover VAR.  During the 2018 FIFA World Cup™, the selected match officials will operate in a variety of roles, e.g. referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, reserve assistant referees and video match officials.