LONDON/ZURICH: Howard Webb will be the first Englishman to get to serious grips with Olympic football action inthe host nation for the 2012 summer Games.

Webb, who refereed the 2010 Champions League Final and World Cup Final, will be in charge of next Monday’s Olympic qualifying play-off between Oman and Senegal in Coventry. This will settle the last of the 16 slots in the men’s football finals, the draw for which will take place the next morning at Wembley.

Webb will have Stephen Child and Mike Mullarkey as his assistants with Martin Atkinson – lucklessly blundering referee from last Sunday’s Chelsea-Tottenham FA Cup semi-final – as fourth official.

Their selection was confirmed when the FIFA Referees Committee. under the chairmanship of Spain’s British-despising Ángel María Villar, named the 84 officials from 36 countries to officiate at the Olympic men’s and women’s tournaments in London.

For the men’s competition, 16 referees and 32 assistant referees have been selected from the six Confederations, whilst for the women’s tournament, 12 referees and 24 assistant referees will be on duty. For the men – who include lone Englishman Mark Clattenburg – London 2012 represents the first step on the road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Massimo Busacca, head of FIFA refereeing explained the concept behind the selection of the officials, having himself refereed at two FIFA World Cups, Euro 2008, and the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final. He said: “The FIFA Refereeing team works just like the technical staff of a national football team, and we are the head coach.”

In addition, a team of technical instructors – former international referees – fitness instructors, physiotherapists and Sports Scientists (including from F-MARC) will regularly review the best referees before selecting the best possible officials for FIFA’s forthcoming competitions.

FIFA’s head of women’s Refereeing Sonia Denoncourt knows what it’s like to be in the spotlight herself at major tournaments, having refereed at three FIFA Women’s World Cups and two Olympic Football Tournaments.

She said: “The bulk of the female referees who have been appointed for the 2012 Olympic Games will be familiar faces from last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany and are at the top of their profession.

“While the technical quality in the women’s game has improved massively on the pitch in the last 15-20 years, our responsibility is to ensure the standard of officiating improves at the same time.”

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