The 2018 World Cup in Russia, Senegalese referee Malang Diedhiou declares, has banished negative perceptions that clouded match officials from African continent.
According to the 45-year-old referee, who last week announced his retirement from refereeing, the officiating at the World Cup by referees from the continent has demolished all doubts as referees from the continent “did not need the VAR” (Video Assistant Referee) during their games.
Diedhiou hung his whistle after enjoying a fair outing in Russia, where his four assignments included the round of 16 showdown between Belgium and Japan.
The Senegalese was also involved in the Belgium-England third-place playoff match where he was the fourth official.
With 10 African assistant referees having initially been selected for the tournament by Fifa, they were left a man short after Kenyan linesman Range Marwa withdrew after being caught on tape allegedly receiving a bribe.
The incident happened a week before the start of the tournament and threw into question the credibility of African referees.
“If there are still doubts about our abilities, the (African) referees present at the World Cup, have managed to remove these doubts,” Diedhiou was quoted as saying by the Senegalese Press Agency.
“For the skeptics, we managed to remove the doubts and in most cases, we did not need the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in our games.”
FIFA, however, did not select African Video Assistant Referees for the tournament.
While announcing his retirement, Diedhiou said, “I could have continued and push on until the 2019 Nations Cup, but our association would have struggled to prepare the next generation,” he told Senegalese news agency APS.
“By retiring now, it gives our referee body an opportunity to prepare a younger person who is ready to officiate at the next African Cup of Nations.
“It is a sacrifice that will be beneficial to the Senegalese referee association, which can count on young referees with great qualities.
“Personally, some people gave me the opportunity to officiate, so it’s time to do the same by passing the baton”, he explained.
Diedhiou has been an international referee since 2008 and he took part in the Caf Champions League qualifiers a year later and moved onto African Cup of Nations duty in 2012.
Four years later he was handed group stage games at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
He served as a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) official at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, alongside Gambia’s Bakary Papa Gassama, before he was named as one of six African referees to officiate at the 2018 World Cup.