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Papa Gassama makes Nations Cup list

Dec 18, 2014, 10:42 AM

Top Gambian and FIFA referee Bakary Papa Gassama is one of the 42 referees invited by CAF to officiate during the 30th Orange African Cup of Nations taking place between January 17th to February 8th in Equatorial Guinea.

The Gambian referee will be officiating in his fourth straight African Cup of Nations tournament, after taking charge of games in the previous three editions held in Angola in 2010, the 2012 edition co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and in 2013 hosted by South Africa.

Gassama has officiated his second African Champions League finals, the second in a row. He took charge of last year’s decider between eventual winners Al Ahly from Egypt and Orlando Pirates from South Africa.

The final this year was contested by Entente Setif from Algeria and Vita Club of DR Congo, with the first leg in the DR Congo. The second leg was played at the Stade Mustapha Tchaker in El Bouleida, Blida with the Algerian side coming out best over the two legs.

Gassama has experience as a referee in his home country and on the international stage.

He refereed in the semi-finals of the Confederations Cup earlier this month, and also made history when he officiated two games in the Qatari domestic football league last month, and became the first non-Asian referee to do so.

This came about following a memorandum of understanding with the Qatari Football Federation and FIFA in terms of refereeing assistance

The MoU allows for continental Africa to assign its top referees and assistants to officiate some of the toughest and fiercely contested games in the Qatari Super League.

As part of the implementation stage of the agreement, Gassama, who was voted one of the seven best referees by FIFA’s Referees Committee at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, became the first African to be appointed for the assignment.

Papa Gassama recently (10 September) took charge of two of the top national teams in Africa - he was appointed to referee an African Cup of Nations qualifier, in which Tunisia defeated Egypt 1-0 in Cairo. He also officiated at last year’s Club World Cup in Morocco.

With European Champions Real Madrid and the top clubs from all the football confederations about to descend on the North African country in December, the 35-year-old is expected to be one of the five referees to take part in the competition.

“Only one referee is appointed from each continent depending on their performance and other factors,” Gassama said. “I was the African referee selected for one year, but at this moment I wouldn’t know whether I will be retained because it is normally a month before the competition that they appoint referees. The tournament will be in November.”

Who is Bakary Papa Gassama?

He became a FIFA referee in 2007, and three years later officiated at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. He also officiated at the 2012 Olympics in London, in which he was the fourth official for the finals (gold medal) match between Mexico and Brazil.

Gassama was also appointed as a referee at the 2012 and 2013 African Cup of Nations tournaments, as well as the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

He was named by the world football governing body, FIFA, as the official in charge of Nigeria’s deciding World Cup qualifier against Ethiopia in Calabar last November 2013, and many more high profile qualifying matches.

He was one of the few African referees who officiated at this summer’s World Cup in Brazil and although he only got one game, he was voted by the Massimo Busacca-led team (FIFA Referees Committee) as one of the seven best performers at the tournament.