Argentina’s Nestor Pitana has been assigned as the referee for the Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday 12 June at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. He will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Bellati and Hernan Maidana, with Sandro Ricci from Brazil designated as the fourth official.
He will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Bellati and Hernan Maidana, with Sandro Ricci from Brazil designated as the fourth official, the ruling body FIFA said Tuesday.
It is the second World Cup for Pitana following Brazil 2014 when he was in charge of four matches.
“We went with someone with experience of a World Cup and we trust we make the correct choice,” Pierluigi Collina, chairman of the FIFA referees committee, said.
Pitana will be officiating at the first World Cup match match with the back-up of the video assistant referee (VAR) system.
FIFA has been preparing referees with matches and seminars since its first use at a FIFA tournament at the Club World Cup in 2006.
A team of four assistants will be seated at a control room at the International Broadcasting Centre in Moscow, dressed in full refereeing gear.
The VAR team for the opening game will be Massimiliano Irrati of Italy as the VAR, Mauro Vigliano of Argentina as first assistant, Carlos Astroza of Chile as second assistant and Daniele Orsato of Italy as third assistant.
“Referees are clear and ready on what they have to do,” Massimo Busacca, the FIFA director refereeing, said.
“We are convinced. We know it cannot be an experiment here, we know we have to be ready but we are positive, we are ready.”
He made his debut in the Argentinian league in 2007 and officiated his first international match in 2010. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, he oversaw four fixtures including France-Germany in the quarterfinals. Pitana returned to Brazil in 2016 for the Olympic Football Tournament where he was the man in the middle for the semi-final between Germany and Nigeria. A year later in 2017, he was involved in another semi-final, in the FIFA Confederations Cup between Germany and Mexico.