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FIFA Slashes Referee Numbers For 2006 FIFA World Cup

In a surprising move on Friday, FIFA announced just 23 referees have been selected to officiate games at the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2006 Germany.

The 23 referees come from 23 different countries, a reduction of more than 35 percent from the 36 and 34 referees assigned to the 2002 and 1998 tournaments in Korea/Japan and France, respectively.

The drastic reduction in overall numbers means a number of top referees were not selected for the World Cup in Germany, including highly-regarded European officials Terje Hauge of Norway, Claus Bo Larsen of Denmark and Alain Sars of France, as well as Kevin Stott of U.S. Soccer. Stott has been a FIFA-sanctioned referee since 1995 and officiated at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru and at the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He remains age-eligible for future consideration.

The 23 referees for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany:

Essam Abd El Fatah (Egypt)
Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay)
Benito Archundia (Mexico)
Carlos Batres (Guatemala)*
Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)
Coffi Codjia (Benin)
Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)*
Massimo De Santis (Italy)
Horacio Elizondo (Argentina)
Valentin Ivanov (Russia)
Toru Kamikawa (Japan)
Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)
Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain)
Markus Merk (Germany)
Lubos Michel (Slovakia)
Graham Poll (England)
Eric Poulat (France)
Peter Prendergast (Jamaica)
Oscar Ruiz (Colombia)
Mark Shield (Australia)
Carlos Simon (Brazil)
Kyros Vassaras (Greece)

*subject to passing a fitness test

Seven referees, together with their assistants, have been nominated for the support and development group:

Khalil Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia)
Carlos Chandia (Chile)
Jerome Damon (South Africa)
Mohamed Guezzaz (Morocco)
Luis Medina Cantalejo (Spain)
Marco Rodriguez (Mexico)
Roberto Rosetti (Italy) is the official website of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.