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Best Referees in African Football: Top 10 List

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African football has produced some exceptional talents over the years, but it’s not just the players who deserve recognition. Referees play a crucial role in ensuring fair play and maintaining the integrity of the game.

In this post, we will take a look at the top 10 best referees in African football.

Top 10 Best Referees in Africa

In Africa, there are several talented referees who have made a name for themselves through their exceptional officiating skills.

Let’s now take a look at the top 10 best referees in Africa.

Bamlak Tessema

Bamlak Tessema Weyesa is an Ethiopian referee who has made a name for himself in the world of football officiating. With a background in medicine and sociology, Bamlak started his refereeing career in 2003 and quickly rose through the ranks to become an international referee.

He officiated his first international match in 2010, and since then, he has been involved in various prestigious competitions such as the CECAFA Cup and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Bamlak has proven to be an exceptional referee with his consistent and fair decision-making.

Bakary Gassama

Bakary Papa Gassama, hailing from Gambia, is another top-notch referee in Africa. He became a FIFA referee in 2007 and has since officiated numerous high-profile tournaments including the Olympic Games, the African Cup of Nations, and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

With his vast experience and expertise, Bakary has gained recognition and respect from players, coaches, and fans alike.

Gehad Grisha

Gehad Zaglol Grisha, an Egyptian referee, has made significant contributions to the world of football officiating. He became a FIFA referee in 2006 and joined the CAF Elite in 2013. Gehad has officiated matches in several Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and other CAF competitions.

In 2018, he had the honour of officiating a match in the FIFA World Cup, becoming the first Egyptian referee to do so since 2006.


Sikazwe’s journey as a referee began in 2008 when he was given the opportunity to replace another referee who had failed a fitness test at the COSAFA U-20 Challenges in South Africa. Since then, he has established himself as one of the best referees in Africa.

Sikazwe has officiated in several prestigious tournaments, including the 2015 African Cup of Nations, the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan, and the 2017 African Cup of Nations Final in Gabon. However, his crowning achievement came in 2018 when he was selected to officiate at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. He made his debut in the Belgium vs Panama Group G game on 18 June, becoming the first Zambian referee to officiate a game at the World Cup finals.

Sikazwe’s impressive performances continued in the World Cup, as he also officiated the Group H game between Poland and Japan.

With his outstanding track record and dedication to the sport, Janny Sikazwe has undoubtedly earned his place among the top 10 best referees in Africa.

Malang Diedhiou

Malang Diedhiou is an international football referee from Senegal. With an impressive track record, Diedhiou has officiated matches in various prestigious tournaments including the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, the 2016 Summer Olympics, and the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

He was also a video assistant referee during the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Diedhiou’s experience and expertise in officiating have earned him numerous nominations and recognition from CAF as the Best Football Referee.

Gladys Lengwe

Gladys Lengwe, hailing from Zambia, is considered one of the best female referees in Africa. She made history as the first woman in Africa to officiate top-flight matches and was named Referee of the Year in her homeland in 2012.

Lengwe’s talent was further acknowledged when she became one of three female African match officials nominated for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada. She has also officiated at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament 2016 in Rio, leaving a lasting impression.

Eddy Maillet

Eddy Maillet, a Seychellois football referee, has made significant contributions to international football despite representing a small nation. Maillet has been a full international referee for FIFA since 2001 and has officiated in various tournaments.

He notably officiated two group stage matches in the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunis 2004 and has been involved in subsequent editions of the tournament. Maillet’s expertise led to his selection for the 2007 Asia Cup and the U17 World Cup in Korea in the same year.

Noumandiez Doué

Noumandiez Doué, a football official from Côte d’Ivoire, is another notable referee from Africa. He became a FIFA referee in 2004 and has since officiated in several international tournaments. Doué’s impressive resume includes officiating at the 2010, 2012, and 2013 African Cup of Nations competitions, the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup, the 2011 CAF Champions League Final, and the 2011 FIFA Club World Cup.

In recognition of his outstanding performance, Doué was named Referee of the Year by the Confederation of African Football in 2011. He was also selected as one of the referees for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he officiated two matches. Doué’s expertise and experience have solidified his reputation as one of Africa’s best referees.

Badara Diatta

Badara Diatta, a strict and no-nonsense African referee from Senegal, is known for his diplomatic approach to officiating. He displays prudence in booking players and maintains a fair and balanced approach on the pitch. Diatta has been an international referee since 1999 and has an impressive list of matches under his belt.

He officiated at the 2008 Olympic Games, as well as the 2008, 2010, and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. In the 2012 edition, he was given the responsibility of officiating the final match. Diatta is also a recipient of the CAF Referee of the Year award. His first major international tournament was the African Youth Tournament in Abuja, Nigeria, in October 2003.

Despite facing a ban for a year by CAN in 2007, Diatta was selected for the African Cup in Ghana in 2008. He was also selected for the Olympic Games in Beijing the same year. Although he narrowly missed out on the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, he was chosen for CAN 2010 in Angola and CAN 2012 in Gabon.

Djamel Haimoudi

Djamel Haimoudi is undoubtedly one of Africa’s finest referees. He has won the prestigious CAF Referee of the Year award two times consecutively. Haimoudi, an Algerian football referee, has been a FIFA-listed international referee since 2004.

He has officiated in various high-profile tournaments including qualifiers for the World Cup, the CAF Champions League, three African Nations Cups, and the 2011 U20 World Cup. In 2012, he was crowned the AFC Referee of the Year after a remarkable performance.

Haimoudi’s notable achievements include officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. He was also selected as one of the referees for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he officiated four matches, including the match for third place. His name is synonymous with respect and admiration in Africa.

This article was updated 4 weeks ago



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