This summer’s World Cup will feature no English referees for the first time in post-war history, nor assistants, after FIFA confirmed its official list of 99 match officials for Russia 2018 on Thursday.
Official 2018 FIFA World Cup match-ball England whistler Mark Clattenburg, who retired from Premier League duty last summer, had been included on a pre-selected group drawn up by world ruling body FIFA two years ago.
But his money-spinning move to Saudi Arabia left no English referees on FIFA’s World Cup list for the first time since before the second world war. The referees representing UEFA-affiliated countries are from Germany, Turkey, Russia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Italy, Slovenia and France.
In another snub to England, globally considered the creators of the ‘beautiful game’, no English assistants will officiate at the competition. FIFA’s decision comes amid the ongoing tension between Britain and Russia following the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England.
The incident, which has since led to tit-for-tat expulsions of foreign embassy staff, prompted Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to decide that no British dignitaries or members of the royal family will attend the competition, held June 14-July 15.