Seasoned local assistant referee Moffat Champiti has been struck off the provisional list earmarked to officiate at the 2014 Fifa World Cup as he is retiring from the international stage later this year after reaching the prescribed age of 45 years.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) referees development officer Maxwell Mtonga said Champiti had erroneously been included on the provisional list.
Fifa has listed 52 referees and 104 assistant referees in the provisional list from all over the world. Fourteen countries supply 21 referees from Africa made up of seven world cup groups of three referees each, and Champiti was the only Malawian referee who was on the initial list.
â€œChampiti was on the initial provisional list, but he had to be removed after it was established that he will reach the prescribed retirement age later this year.
â€œOnly top-notch referees and assistants are selected for such grand tournaments.
Unfortunately, apart from him [Champiti], the other Fifa referees that we have are just up-and-coming and are yet to officiate at big competitions such as the Africa Cup of Nations, which is the benchmark,â€ said Mtonga.
Champiti confirmed that he was earmarked for the global showcase.
â€œI was indeed on the initial list, but they had to remove my name after establishing that I would be retiring.
â€œAll the same, I feel proud because that was also a recognition. Had it been that I had age on my side, I would have stood a chance of being considered,â€ he said.
Malawi has 16 Fifa referees and assistants, including Champiti.
Apparently, Champitiâ€™s last big event was the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations where he officiated two games. He also officiated at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Among referees that have been selected are Nigeriaâ€™s Peter Edibe, whoÂ belongs to the first group that has Alioum Neant of Cameroun as referee and his compatriot Menkounde Evarist as first assistant. Edibe is the second assistant.
Other referees include Bennet Daniel of South Africa, who heads Group two, to be assisted by Range Marwa of Kenya and Siwela Zachele of South Africa. Haimoudi Djamel of Algeria is with Etchiali Abedlhak of Algeria and Achik Redouane of Morocco.
Also included are, Jeddidi Slim of Tunisia, Hassani Bechir of Tunisia and Hassan Bechir of Egypt. Also on the list is the group of Doue Noumandie of Cote dâ€™Ivoire and his compatriot Yeo Songuifolo and Birumishahu Jean Claude of Burundi. Diatta Badara of Senegal leads Camara Djibril of Senegal and Kabanda Felicien of Rwanda.
In picking the referees, Fifa had an eye on age as only three were born in 1969 (43 years) being the oldest in the group, just as two of them were born in 1982.
While congratulating the selected referees, Fifa emphasised the need for them to be in top form â€œphysically, mentally and psychologically till such a time they will be approved for the competition proper.â€