Media Release

Federation Internationale de Football Association

FIFA Strasse 20, P.O Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland, +41 (0) 43 222 7777

23 referees from 21 countries

Twenty-three referees from 21 different countries will officiate at the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™. This decision was reached by the FIFA Referees Committee in early May after closely evaluating and analysing the test results of 80 assistant referees at a workshop in Frankfurt/Neu-Isenburg between 18 and 21 April.

At a meeting on 31 March, the FIFA Referees Committee selected 23 referees from the 44 candidates who attended a workshop and completed a series of tests in Frankfurt/Neu-Isenburg from 21 to 25 March. Twenty of these match officials will now be in charge of matches at the World Cup finals in Germany.

See the full list of referees

Unfortunately, Carlos Batres had to pull out of the fitness tests during the assistant referees' workshop at the end of March. The Guatemalan official has been forced to admit defeat in his attempts to regain full fitness after suffering a cruciate ligament injury in December 2005 that has ended his 2006 World Cup ambitions. Batres will be replaced in Germany by Mexico's Marco Rodriguez.

Belgium's Frank De Bleeckere, who failed to complete the fitness tests in March due to injury, successfully passed the tests in April and will now make his debut as a World Cup referee. Greek referee Kyros Vassaras and his Spanish counterpart Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez had also been due to take part in the World Cup finals, but as some of their assistants failed to reach the required standards in Frankfurt/Neu-Isenburg, Vassaras and Mejuto Gonzalez have also been taken off the list. They will be replaced by two original members of the support and development group, Italy's Roberto Rosetti and Spain's Luis Medina Cantalejo.

The referees, who for the first time will have World Cup assistants from the same country or the same confederation, will be representing 21 different countries. Italy and Mexico will be the only countries to have two referees in action in Germany.

The support and development group – another World Cup first – will now consist of five referees and ten assistants who will only step into the fray in the event of another match official being unable to take part for whatever reason, such as injury or illness for example. These 15 match officials will be fully integrated into the team of referees for the World Cup. They will take part in all training sessions and meetings, and as such, they will be ready to spring into action at any time. They will thus also have the opportunity to gain crucial experience of a FIFA World Cup™.

The refereeing trios will arrive in Germany on 26 May, using the Hotel Kempinski Gravenbruch in Frankfurt/Neu-Isenburg as their headquarters for the duration of the tournament. All match officials will be required to undergo further tests before the World Cup gets underway. FIFA will announce the identity of the refereeing trio for each of the 64 matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ 48 hours in advance.