Without match officials, football games wouldn’t go ahead, and besides the 22 players on the pitch, the next most important person are the referees.
The central referee, two assistant referees on the lines, and the third official who effects substitutions. They determine whether the rule of the game is being followed or not.
In 2022, we’ve seen some of the biggest football games from Africa’s biggest competition.
The 2021 AFCON in Cameroon earlier in January saved us a lot of dramas from the men with the whistle from Genesis for time-keeping to the sea of red in the knockout stages wasn’t a good tournament referee wise, but nevertheless, here are the top five referees for Africa in the year 2022.
1. Bamlak Tessema
Bamlak tessema is an Ethiopian referee who became a FIFA-badged referee in 2009.
Balmak was one of the referees who left the AFCON this year without any controversy. In fact, he ended up on the praise side when he handled Senegal’s semifinal win over Burkina Faso. He rightly overturned two penalty decisions following VAR reviews, which earned him praise from fans.
2. Bakary Gassama
Bakary is one of Africa’s top referees after rising to officiate at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia 2017 Confederation Cup since becoming a FIFA referee in 2007.
Bakary handled Nigeria’s 1-0 win over Egypt, Cameroon’s shootout win over Burkina Faso in the third-place match, amongst others, at the AFCON in January without any controversy.
3. Salima Rhadia Mukansanga
Salima Rhadia Mukansanga made history by becoming the first woman to officiate at the AFCON earlier this year.
She led an all-woman officiating team of Fatiha Jermoumi (Morocco), Carine Atemzabong (Cameroon), and Bouchra Karboubi (Morocco) as the VAR in an AFCON game involving in the group stage game between Zimbabwe and Guinea.
Previously, she handled games at the Olympics, FIFA Women’s World cup, and Africa Women’s Nation’s Cup.
4. Victor Gomes
Victor Gomes is a South African referee, and he handled the 2021 AFCON final between Senegal and Egypt, including knockout and group stage matches at the competition.
His choice may not be surprising after he was reported to have rejected a bribe worth $20,000 to fix a CAF Confederation Cup game between Plateau Utd and USM Alger.
5. Mustapha Ghorbal
The Algerian became a FIFA-badged referee in 2014 after only starting his career three years earlier and has gone on handle games at the FIFA u20 world cup.
He also handled the opening game of AFCON 2021 between the hosts and Burkina Faso. He also handled three FIFA Club world cup matches in February.