May 21, 2008, 5:52 AM
Gambian International referee Bakary Papa Gassama has been named by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for its 2015 Referee of the Year award which will be announced at a gala on 7 January.
Papa, who officiated the Africa Cup of Nations final on 8 February 2015 between Ghana and Ivory Coast, is shortlisted for the award along Alioum Neant of Cameroon, Eric Arnaud Otogo Castane of Gabon, Ghead Zaglol Grisha of Egypt and Janny Sikazwe of Zambia.
Having been beaten by Algerian Haimoudi Djamel to the award at the 2013 CAF Awards in Lagos, Nigeria, the Gambian is highly tipped to lift the award this time around.
Papa Gassama made history when he became the first Gambian to be shortlisted for the top prize for refereeing in Africa and made yet another name for himself and the country by becoming the first Gambian to be appointed to officiate at a senior World Cup final tournament.
In 2013, the 36-year-old was appointed to officiate in most of the high-profile football events in Africa, including the Africa Cup of Nations, the CAF Super Cup, the Africa Zone World Cup qualifiers and the CAF Champions League final.
He also took charge of big matches in world football, including the FIFA Under-20 Finals in Turkey and the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, where he became the first man to use the ‘vanishing spray’ to mark where the ball and wall should be positioned for free kicks.
Papa was chosen by FIFA to officiate at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil based especially on his personality and his quality in football understanding by being able to read the game and the teams’ tactical approaches towards each game.
Born on 10 February 1979 Papa became a FIFA referee in 2007 and has officiated at the 2012 Olympic tournament, in which he was the fourth official for the gold medal match between Mexico and Brazil.
He also served as a referee at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
In March 2013 FIFA named Bakary Gassama as one of the fifty potential referees at the World Cup 2014.
On 15 January 2014 the FIFA announced that he would be one of the 25 referees on the tournament.
He officiated the third group stage match in group B between the Netherlands and Chile on 23 June 2014.
He was one of three referees from Africa selected to officiate at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.