By Modou Lamin Beyai
Gambia and Africa’s best referee Bakary Papa Gassama has been included in the list of nine officials set to officiate at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.
The 38-year-old was selected by the FIFA Referees Committee from the list of candidates for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The 2016 Sports Journalists’ Association’s (SJAG) Sports Personality award winner has been under the guidance and supervision of the chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina and the FIFA Head of Refereeing, Massimo Busacca, with only a month to go before the Confederations Cup kicks off at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on 17 June.
Papa Gassama is the only central referee that has been selected from the continent though he will be assisted by Jean-Claude Birumushahu of Burundi and Aden Range Marwa of Kenya on the sidelines with Senegalese Malang Diedhiou serving as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
The VAR, which will be another important piece of history that will be made at the Confederations Cup, will be used to support referees with “match-changing” decisions and referees being given access to all broadcast feeds inside a video operations room that will enable them to provide information to the referee on the field of play in order to correct any clear mistakes in situations.
These include serious incidents such as goals, penalty decisions, direct red cards and cases of mistaken identity. Gassama and other referees will also be able to call upon goal-line technology (GLT).
The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup will be played in the Russian cities of Kazan, Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Sochi from 17 June to 2 July 2017.
The continent will be represented at the showpiece by 2017 Africa Cup of Nations winners, Cameroon.