June 3, 2014

Countdown to Brazil: 10 Youngsters

There are only a bit less than 10 days to go until Joseph Blatter and Dilma Rousseff will officially declare the 20th FIFA World Cup open, followed by the kick-off whistle of one of the 25 selected match officials who is going to have the honour to referee the opener between Brazil and Croatia. 

We count down the painful days until this moment we have waited for over the last couple of years and start to do so today - still a bit less than 10 days or 227 hours!

10 Youngsters

Even though the 90 chosen match officials are forming quite a high average age (38,9) compared to previous FIFA competitions, there is a wide range between the oldest and youngest officials. Between the oldest official, English World Cup 2010 Final assistant referee Darren Cann, and Paraguayan reserve assistant referee Rodney Aquino, son of former World Cup referee Ubaldo Aquino, there are exactly 15 years and 3 months - a real generation gap. 

The oldest referee team come from England, headed by (still) 43-year old Howard Webb, and are closely followed by their Italian colleagues led by Nicola Rizzoli. This already indicates that the European referee trios are kind of the pensioners among the World Cup roster - their average age is 40,1 (OFC 36,5, CONMEBOL 37,5, CAF 38,3, CONCACAF 38,7 and AFC 39,7). We will see whether this seemingly bigger experience will automatically lead to better performances and more control - considering that the last World Cup has proven this correlation wrong.
Contrary to the European zone, South American refereeing has experienced a true generation change that was risky, but made FIFA choose some officials who have the quality to handle matches on the highest level with very good performances. The youngest trio indeed comes from this zone - from Ecuador to be more precise. Carlos Vera and his assistants Christian Lescano and Byron Romero are only 34,3-year old on average. 

Apart from some real "dinos" in the referee list, there are 10 youngsters born in the 1980s. They are coming from all confederations except AFC and UEFA - which is a signal for a bigger awareness in other confederations to follow the latest trend frequently proposed by Blatter to significantly decrease the match officials' average age at World Cups. Among these 10 talents, there are no greenhorns. Most of them took part in many FIFA tournaments having collected valuable experiences. And one of them is even a World Cup veteran: Salvadorian assistant referee Juan Francisco Zumba functioned as reserve assistant referee at World Cup 2010 in South Africa! And among the main referees who will definitely conduct matches as such, there is only Colombian Wilmar Roldán born in 1980.  Interestingly, Roldán is maybe the South American referee with the greatest potential and biggest chances to achieve a lot in Brazil.

These statistics, the gap between older and younger officials, will have positive sides also off the pitch. They can learn from each other - and not only the youngsters from the elderly, but specially vice versa. The mix is right.

Check the full World Cup List here! Profiles will be added during the next days.


  1. Nice background, looking forward to the profiles of the referees. Interesting interview with José Roberto Wright in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jun/03/1990-world-cup-referee-gazza-cry

  2. Well I only speak Spanish. But if I understand it right, Pedro Proenca is the next one stopping his career after the World Cup.


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