The FIFA World Cup 2022 will go down as the most successful ever for Concacaf referees, as a total of 18 referees from the region took part in the tournament.
Helping guide this effort was Nicola Rizzoli, who is Concacaf’s Technical Refereeing Advisor. Rizzoli hailed the performance of Concacaf’s team of referees at Qatar 2022.
“I have been at Concacaf for one year now, so I think it is important to recognize those who worked before me. The Refereeing Department clearly did a very good job because when I arrived, I found a very professional group of referees,” Rizzoli told Concacaf.
“I think the results we had in this World Cup were amazing in terms of performances for us. We managed a lot of games, so overall the performance was really good, and we are very happy with it,” added Rizzoli.
Concacaf said there were four Concacaf referees who were selected as Head Referees during the tournament: Ivan Barton (El Salvador), Ismail Elfath (United States), Mario Escobar (Guatemala) and Cesar Arturo Ramos (Mexico).
Ramos became just the third Concacaf referee to officiate a World Cup semifinal, as he was on the whistle for France’s 2-0 win versus Morocco, Concacaf said.
It said Ramos was the Head Referee in four matches, Elfath and Barton each had three matches as Head Referee, while Escobar was Head Referee in one match.
“In the group stage, all of our Head Referees had at least one game, and then in the Round of 16 we had three Head Referees do a match and all of them performed very well. We were then very satisfied that Ramos had the semifinal of France vs. Morocco and he performed very well,” said Rizzoli.
Rizzoli also highlighted the performances of Canada’s Drew Fischer and Said Martinez of Honduras.
“Said Martinez contributed to our success, working nine games as a Fourth Official. We can say the same thing about our VAR officials. In total we had 22 games. Drew Fischer was the VAR in eight games, which is unbelievable, and the overall performance of the video officials was very good,” said Rizzoli.
The 51-year-old Italian also heralded the achievements of Karen Diaz Medina of Mexico and Kathryn Nesbitt of the United States.
Concacaf said Diaz was part of a history-making crew for the Germany-Costa Rica match in Group E, by serving as an Assistant Referee on the first ever all-female refereeing trio to take charge of a Senior Men’s World Cup match.
Diaz was one of six women referees at the World Cup, along with Nesbitt, who worked as one of the Assistant Video Assistant Referees in the Germany-Costa Rica contest in the capacity of the Offside VAR.
Concacaf SAID Nesbitt would then go on to serve as an Assistant Referee during the Round of 16 match-up between England and Senegal.
Rizzoli added that none of this could have been possible without the efforts of former FIFA referee and current FIFA Instructor and FIFA RefCo member Michelle Pye of Canada and FIFA Head of Refereeing, Women, Kari Seitz of the U.S.
“We also had the unbelievable achievement of two women as Assistant Referees and they showed their qualities. These two women performed so well in the World Cup and we are so proud of that. You see that there are no differences between men and women in refereeing and the fact that Concacaf was part of this process is great. We have to thank Michelle Pye and Kari Seitz for their work. We trusted a lot in this project and these are the results,” said Rizzoli.
Looking ahead to the future and the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be held in North America, Rizzoli believes that the sky is the limit for Concacaf referees, according to Concacaf.
“Before this World Cup, it was just a dream. Now we have the confidence that Concacaf referees can reach the top. From this tournament, the image of Concacaf referees is very good and I think for all of the rest of the referees of Concacaf, this is a big motivation because they want to be part of this kind of competition. In 2026 here in North America, it is our target. We know we have the possibility to compete with UEFA and Conmebol to have the best referees and to manage the Final, so this is our objective for the future Rizzoli said.