Thabani Bamala is the only local referee selected to join the Fifa panel this year. At 29, the Kwekwe-based Bamala becomes one of the youngest local referees on the panel together with Norman Matemerera who is also 29.
The other referee is Ruzive Ruzive who joined the Fifa panel with Matemerera last year.
Bongani Gadzikwa, Alfred Zindove, Abraham Manda, Osward Mukucha and Tapfumanei Mutengwa have been on the panel since last year as assistants.
The longest serving assistant referee on the Fifa panel is Cosmas Chafa, who has been on the football world body panel since 2005.
The oldest local assistant referee on the panel is Zindove, who is 44 but is due to retire next year when he reaches world football body’s retirement age.
While Zimbabwe has nine international referees and assistants on the Fifa panel, it pales into insignificance, when compared to other African countries such as South Africa, Ghana, Morocco and Senegal who have 14 referees each.
Brazil and Italy have the highest number of international match officials on the Fifa panel with 20 referees each.
The Zimbabwe women international referees on the Fifa panel are Pamela Chiwaya and Kuda Moyo. Chiwaya joined the panel in 2009 while Moyo has been on the panel since 2004. The assistant referees are Rudo Nhananga and Stella Ruviya. Nhananga joined the panel last year while Ruviya joined the elite list in 2007.
Markus Kattner, the Fifa deputy secretary general in circular number 1250 to Zifa, congratulated the match officials selected for the 2011 panel.
“The referees selected will automatically be given the Fifa international referee’s, assistant referee’s, futsal referee’s or beach soccer referee’s badges, which they shall wear at all domestic and international matches they will officiate during their year of appointment as international referees, assistant referees, futsal referees or beach soccer referees,” Kattner said.