World Cup Russia 2018 is kicking off today, with the first match to be played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. There will be 64 matches in total and each one requires a referee. Then there are his assistants, and for the first time ever – the virtual assistant referee (VAR). With this in mind, what is a typical World Cup referee salary? And how are officials selected?
Arguably, the referee has one of the most important jobs in football. He alone often has the power to decide matches and break hearts in the process. Incorrect decisions can attract high levels of criticism from football pundits and impassioned fans.
To this end, it’s easy to argue that ‘man in the middle’ deserves a pay-cheque in line with the players he adjudicates over. When you consider that we are talking about football’s largest stage, a World Cup referee salary should also reflect that.
Meet the World Cup referees
In March, FIFA confirmed the 36 ‘elite’ referees from six continental federations who will adjudicate matches. The European governing body UEFA will be providing ten referees. In addition there are six representatives coming from the AFC (Asia), CAF (Africa), CONCACAF (North and Central America), and CONMEBOL (South America). Only two representatives have been chosen from OFC (Oceania) due to the spread of teams involved this year.
The most experienced referees are likely to officiate over the more high-profile games and during the knockout stages. However, all officials will be happy to know that they receive the same World Cup referee salary, regardless of where they operate.
Here is the full list of referees selected:
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World Cup referee salary: what are referees being paid?
The current World Cup referee salary has been set at $70,000 for 2018. In addition, referees get a bonus of $3,000 per match.
This is the highest World Cup referee salary in history.
In 2006, the main referees were paid $35,000 each. For the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the referee salary increased to $50,000.
Sportcal senior reporter Jonathan Rest told Verdict:
“Payments have increased for this World Cup compared with 2014 for all stakeholders, due to an increase in commercial revenues, and referees are no different.
“The prize money has increased 40% with $400m split between the 32 teams depending on where they finish. Each nation will get $1.5m for participating. That’s up from $1m in Brazil 2014, which is in line with the referees’ increase.”
How are World Cup referees chosen?
According to FIFA, the selection process ‘was based on each referee’s skills and personality, as well as his level of understanding of football and ability to read both the game and the various tactics employed by teams’.
Each referee is aided by a small team of assistants (now including an extra assistant who will act as the VAR). FIFA has confirmed the 63 assistant referees for the tournament.
Interestingly, FIFA announced back in March that there will be no World Cup referees from the UK. It’s the first time in 80 years this has happened. The only UK referee to be included in FIFA’s longlist was Mark Clattenburg. However, he forfeited his place when he moved away from the English Premier League to officiate in Saudi Arabia last year.
The World Cup referee salary for an assistant is reportedly lower. Their pay is $25,000 for the tournament, with an additional $2,000 per match.