Under the chairmanship of FIFA vice-president Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain), the FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees Committee met in Zurich on 26 October to approve the details and structure of a bold new initiative, the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ Referees' Project, designed to produce consistent world-class performances in all the matches of FIFA's flagship event. The committee also emphasised their commitment to the future by expressing their strong support for a number of initiatives to raise worldwide standards of officiating, including the expansion of referee instructor courses and further development materials.

For the first time in FIFA World Cup™ history, world football's governing body will embark on an 18-month training and development programme for the referees who will be candidates for the highly sought-after positions at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™.  This ambitious programme, known as the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ Referees' Project, officially kicks off in 2005 with the announcement of the 46 candidates who will compete for the final 30 positions in Germany.

In the first quarter of 2005, candidates will come together for preparatory meetings that will set rigorous standards through various theoretical and practical training sessions designed to set the bar as high as possible for 2006. These candidates will participate as match officials in various FIFA competitions throughout 2005 and will be observed throughout the project to assess their performances at international and domestic level. The final list of FIFA World Cup™ referees will be announced in the first quarter of 2006.

"Top quality is the goal," said FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter. "This unique programme will help us identify, train and prepare match officials for the 2006 FIFA World Cup™ so that we have nothing but the best referees on the pitch."

The committee also applauded the further production of advanced refereeing training materials for the FIFA Referees' Development Training Programme, which is used in the expanded FIFA Futuro III "teach the teacher" referee instructor courses. In the last two months alone, 40 member associations have benefited from the referee instructor training courses offered by FIFA and 40 further associations will participate in the programme by the end of 2004.

The list of International Referees, Assistant Referees and Futsal Referees for 2005 was also completed and will be officially announced via FIFA.com in January 2005.