Six African referees have been selected as match officials for the FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Qatar next week. 

They include Gambian international referee Bakary Papa Gassama who will be making history by officiating his third World Cup after impressing at the tournaments in Brazil 2014 and Russia 2018.

The other African referees are Maguette Ndiaye (Senegal), Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria), Victor Gomes (South Africa), Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda), and Janny Sikazwe (Zambia). 

FIFA Referees Committee released the lists of the match officials on Thursday including their assistants and video match officials (VMO).

A total of 36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials (VMOs) have been chosen in close cooperation with the six confederations, based on their quality and the performances delivered at FIFA tournaments as well as at other international and domestic competitions in recent years.

Here is everything you need to know about the six African referees: 

Bakary Papa Gassama (The Gambia) 

The 43-year-old Gambian referee is a household name in The Gambia and the continent. 

After years of officiating with distinction in his native Gambia, Gassama received his   FIFA referee badge in 2007 and has excelled on the prestigious roll for 15-years.

Gassama excelled at the 2012 Olympics football event and was among the officials for the gold medal match.

In 2013 FIFA listed Gassama among 50 potential referees for the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup competition.

In January 2014, FIFA announced the list of Referees for the World Cup and Gassama was on the plane to South America for his first FIFA World Cup tournament.

The multiple time CAF referee of the year winner officiated at the 2017 FIFA Confederation Cup and was eventually listed for the World Cup in 2018.

Maguette Ndiaye (Senegal)

Maguette Ndiaye was born in 1986 and is the son of former international referee Papa Ndiaye.

He always keeps his whistle close by. Away from refereeing, Ndiaye works as a secondary school PE teacher.

Ndiaye has officiated a variety of major tournaments including the Club World Cup, CAF Super Cup, CAF Champions League, Under-20 World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations.

He took charge of a tense quarter final match between Egypt and Morocco, which saw the Pharaohs snatch the win during extra-time.

Mustapha Ghorbal  (Algeria) 

Mustapha Ghorbal was born in Oran in 1985.

He has been a full international referee since 2014.

The 37-year-old made his debut in the Algerian first division in 2011 and has gone on to referee some huge tournaments.

He was selected twice to officiate the FIFA Club World Cup, the Under-20 World Cup and the Arab Cup.

Ghorbal has also refereed at the Africa Cup of Nations in back-to-back tournaments.

In 2020 he was given the whistle for the CAF Champions League final in Egypt.

Victor Gomes (South Africa)

A tough-talking no-nonsense referee, Gomes has made headlines on more than one occasion. In 2018, he reportedly turned down a $30,000 bribe to fix a CAF Confederation Cup game between Nigeria’s Plateau United and Algeria’s USM Alger. In the 2021 AFCON final, Gomes sternly told Egyptian superstar Mohammed Salah to stop complaining before sarcastically offering him his whistle.

Salima Mukansanga (Rwanda) 

Mukansanga is continuously making history. She is the first woman from her native Rwanda to referee the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the first woman to ever officiate at the African Cup of Nations and now one of the first women to referee at the men’s World Cup.

Janny Sikazwe (Zambia) 

Sikazwe boasts an impressive CV, having refereed the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup final and the 2017 AFCON final and becoming the first Zambian referee to officiate a World Cup in 2018.

However, he is perhaps best remembered for incorrectly calling full-time in the 85th and 89th minute in an AFCON clash between Tunisia and Mali in January this year. It later emerged that he had suffered heat stroke and was later taken to hospital.

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