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Canadian Drew Fischer to serve on World Cup officiating crew in Qatar

Houston Dynamo's Alex, back, and Vancouver Whitecaps' Pedro Morales, left, react after both received red cards from referee Drew Fischer during the first half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday May 28, 2016. Fischer has been selected one of 24 video match officials for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Canadian Drew Fischer has been selected one of 24 video match officials for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year.

FIFA also named 36 referees and 69 assistant referees for the 32-country tournament that runs Nov. 21 to Dec. 18.

Earlier this month, Fischer was awarded Canada Soccer’s Ray Morgan Memorial Award, presented annually to a referee that has shown progress at the national and international levels. The 41-year-old from Calgary has served on the FIFA referees panel since 2015 and its video match officials list since 2021.

In 2021 he worked the CONCACAF Gold Cup as a referee and was appointed to the CONCACAF Nations League Finals and FIFA Club World Cup as a video assistant referee. In 2019 he was appointed as a VAR to the FIFA Women’s World Cup and was the VAR in the MLS Cup final in 2020. 

Fischer has also worked the Canadian Championship final and MLS all-star game.

“As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide,” Pierluigi Collina, a former elite referee who is now chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, said in a statement. “The 2018 World Cup was very successful, partly because of the high standard of refereeing, and we will do our best to be even better in a few months in Qatar.”

FIFA said the search for World Cup officials started in 2019, with more than 50 trios considered possible candidates.

"We are announcing these selections well in advance as we want to work even harder with all those who have been appointed for the FIFA World Cup, monitoring them in the next months," said Collina. "The message is clear: Don’t rest on your laurels, keep working hard and prepare yourselves very seriously for the World Cup."

The selected match officials will participate in seminars in Asuncion (Paraguay), Madrid and Doha in early summer, reviewing and analyzing video clips of match situations, and taking part in practical training sessions with players, which will be filmed to enable participants to receive instant feedback from the instructors.

“The key focuses of the preparation remain protecting players and the image of the game, consistency, uniformity, reading the game from a technical and tactical perspective and understanding a variety of player and team mentalities,” said Massimo Busacca, FIFA’s director of refereeing. “We can’t eliminate all mistakes, but we will do everything we can to reduce them.”

The VAR system was implemented for the first time at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

For the first time in the history of the men's World Cup, the FIFA Referees Committee has also appointed three women's referees — Stephanie Frappart (France), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) and Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan) — and three women's assistant referees — Neuza Back (Brazil), Karen Diaz Medina (Mexico) and Kathryn Nesbitt (U.S.)

"This concludes a long process that began several years ago with the deployment of female referees at FIFA men’s junior and senior tournaments," said Collina. "In this way, we clearly emphasize that it is quality that counts for us and not gender. I would hope that in the future, the selection of elite women’s match officials for important men’s competitions will be perceived as something normal and no longer as sensational.

"They deserve to be at the FIFA World Cup because they constantly perform at a really high level, and that’s the important factor for us.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022

The Canadian Press

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