Turkish ref Cüneyt Çakır assigned to World Cup in Brazil
AA PhotoCüneyt Çakır will be the first Turkish referee in 40 years to officiate at a World Cup, as world football’s governing body, FIFA, announced its list of 25 referee trios on Jan. 15.
The FIFA Referees Committee, meeting in Zurich on Jan. 14 under the chairmanship of Jim Boyce of Northern Ireland, appointed 25 referee trios and eight support duos representing 43 different countries for football’s biggest event, the World Cup in Brazil.
Çakır, along with assistants Bahattin Duran and Tarık Ongun, are among the referees that were assigned to FIFA’s flagship event, which starts June 12.
Çakır will be the first referee after pioneer Doğan Bababan to be assigned to officiate at a World Cup.
Babacan made history when he officiated World Cup host West Germany’s game against Chile on June 14, 1974, sending off Chile’s Carlos Caszely in the 67th minute of the same game. Babacan was later assigned to fixtures between Bulgaria and Uruguay and Brazil and East Germany as an assistant referee.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, the head of the Turkish referees board, the MHK, said they could not be more proud about Çakır’s achievement.
“I think that is the greatest reply to the critics of our referees and the MHK,” said Zekeriya Alp, referring to continuous criticism from the media and clubs about match officials. “Cüneyt Çakır has made a great achievement for our country. We cannot be more proud. This is a team effort. So I thank not only Cüneyt Çakır, but to everyone who has helped him to this point.”
Alp also said Çakır was very happy after he heard the news and would hold a press conference in the coming days.
The assignment is the latest feather in the cap for Çakır, who has received ever-more important international fixtures.
After qualifying for the Elite Category in 2011, Çakır has been regularly assigned at top-level FIFA and UEFA competitions. The 36-year-old was assigned to three games in the 2012 UEFA European Football Championships, including the semifinal clash between Spain and Portugal. Last month, he was among the referees at the FIFA Club World Cup.
Çakır also officiated the 2012 Champions League semifinal second leg between Barcelona and Chelsea, as well as last season’s round-of-16 second-leg game between Manchester United and Real Madrid. However, the Turkish referee came under severe criticism from the British media after his decision to send off United’s Portuguese midfielder Nani.
He also officiated a 2010 Europa League semifinal match between Hamburg and Fulham.
Çakır’s highlights in international football include games at the 2009 European Under-21 Championship along with the 2011 and 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Cups.
Çakır, Duran and Ongun were among nine referee trios from the European confederation, UEFA. There are five trios from South American confederation CONMEBOL, four from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), three from the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), three from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and one from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).
The referees were selected from a long list of 52 referee trios.
FIFA said it has implemented “a comprehensive program to ensure that the referees for its flagship competition are in peak condition.”
The selected group of match officials will participate in three seminars: February, March/April, and the last one 10 days before the kick-off of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, it said.
“The selected referees and assistant referees will be followed and monitored regularly during this period, and FIFA is ready to give them all the support they need so that they can prepare for this important World Cup in the best possible manner,” FIFA said.