Qatar 2022: Most-Feared Referees at The World Cup

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Qatar 2022: Most-Feared Referees at The World Cup
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Italian official Daniele Orsato has been identified as the most-feared referee to be participating at the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, according to research carried out by

Four-time winners Italy may not be taking part in the 2022 event, but Orsato will be representing his nation in the absence of the Azzurri and players should tread lightly if they come up against him.

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Orsato came out on top of a data poll we conducted, factoring in the number of cards shown, the colour of each card and the number of penalties dished out throughout the World Cup qualifying campaign. 

He amassed an Index Score of 75 having dealt out a whopping 33 cards (32 yellows, 1 red) as well as awarding two penalties, all in just five European qualifiers in the build-up to Qatar 2022. 

The power of the whistle cannot be underestimated, even in the age of VAR, and when Orsato is in charge, big decisions are never far away. Just look at these stats racked up across the qualifiers.

Daniele Orsato World Cup Refereeing Stats: Qatar Qualifiers

Qualifiers Refereed Cards Shown Yellows Reds Cards Per Match Mins Per Card Penalties Awarded
5 33 32 1 6.6 13.6 2

He averaged 6.6 cards per match and one every 13.6 minutes. Indeed, he topped four of the seven metrics we used to determine who the strictest referee in Qatar will be.

Four of the top five most-feared referees at the World Cup hail from Europe, but South Americans will also want to be avoided with two Brazilians in the top 10. 

Most Feared World Cup Referees at Qatar 2022

Refereeing decisions can make or break a nation’s World Cup campaign. Think Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’, Rudi Voller’s dive to earn a penalty in the 1990 final, or any number of decisions made by controversial Ecuadorian ref Byron Moreno in Italy’s 2002 second round defeat to South Korea.

Orsato is not the only referee to be wary of in Qatar though. Indeed, second on our list of the most-feared officials at the World Cup is female referee Stephanie Frappart, one of three women set to take charge of matches in the Gulf State.

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French official Frappart is arguably the most recognisable of those three having refereed in the Champions League and Ligue 1, the top tier in France.

However, she also carries a fearsome record into the World Cup having amassed an Index Score of 72.5 on the back of three penalties awarded in two games during the qualifiers, as well as 10 yellow cards.

Stephanie Frappart Refereeing Stats: World Cup 2022 Qualifiers

Qualifiers Refereed Cards Shown Yellows Reds Cards Per Match Mins Per Card Penalties Awarded
2 10 10 0 5 18 3

That said, Frappart was not the most prolific penalty-awarder in qualifiers for Qatar. That honour goes to Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio, who pointed to the spot five times in six games in South American qualifiers.

He was closely followed by England’s Michael Oliver, who handed out four penalties in five qualifiers on the road to Qatar in Europe.

Most Penalties Awarded in WC 2022 Qualifying

Rank Referee Associated Nation Penalties Awarded
1 Wilton Sampaio Brazil 5
2 Michael Oliver England 4
T3 Stephanie Frappart France 3
T3 Raphael Claus Brazil 3
T3 Jesus Valenzuela Venezuela 3
T3 Mohammed Abdulla Mohammed UAE 3
T7 Daniele Orsato Italy 2
T7 Szymon Marciniak Poland 2
T7 Mustapha Ghorbal Algeria 2
T7 Victor Gomes South Africa 2
T7 Ning Ma China 2

The penalties metric was not the only poll Sampaio topped – he also handed out the most red cards in qualifying with three dismissals, but his overall Index Score was brought down having officiated in six qualifiers, the joint-most of all 36 referees analysed.

South American referees are generally considered to be more unpredictable than their counterparts from other continents, but four South Americans appear in the top 10 ‘total cards’ tally compared to six from Europe. 

Most Cards Shown in World Cup Qualifying

Rank Referee Associated Nation Cards Shown
1 Daniele Orsato Italy 33
T2 Raphael Claus Brazil 30
T3 Jesus Valenzuela Venezuela 30
4 Szymon Marciniak Poland 29
T5 Michael Oliver England 26
T5 Wilton Sampaio Brazil 26
T7 Istvan Kovacs Romania 21
T7 Danny Makkelie Netherlands 21
T7 Antonio MATEU Spain 21
T10 Mustapha GHORBAL Algeria 19
T10 Facundo Tello Argentina 19

That is not to say that referees from beyond Europe and South America are prepared to give players a free ride. When the data is broken down into a rate of minutes-per-card, officials from America, Africa and Oceania can hold their own.

New Zealand referee Matthew Conger is joint-second in this metric with an average of one card every 15 minutes – only the strictest referee in this study, Daniele Orsatao, can boast a more prolific rate.

Referees from USA, Guatemala and Zambia also make up the top 10 in the minutes-per-card stakes.

Shortest Minutes-Per-Card Rates in WC Qualifying

Rank Referee Associated Nation Mins Per Card
1 Daniele Orsato Italy 13.6
T2 Raphael Claus Brazil 15
T2 Jesus Valenzuela Venezuela 15
T2 Matthew Conger New Zealand 15
5 Szymon Marciniak Poland 15.5
6 Istvan Kovacs Romania 17.1
T7 Stephanie Frappart France 18
T7 Ismail Elfath USA 18
T7 Mario Escobar Guatemala 18
T7 Janny Sikazwe Zambia 18

As well as ones to avoid, fans and players may be wondering which referees could actually be favourable appointments for their team in Qatar, and the answer based on our findings is Ceasar Ramos of Mexico.

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Of the 36 referees set to officiate in Qatar, only two – female referees Salima Mukansanga (Rewanda) and Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan) – never actually refereed any qualifiers during the road to the World Cup. But of the 34 who did, Ramos produced the lowest Index Score in our study.

Most Lenient Referees in Qatar 2022

Rank Referee Associated Nation Index Score
1 Cesar Ramos Mexico 15
2 Alireza Faghani Iran 20
3 Abdulrahman Al Jassim Qatar 23.33
4 Clement Turpin France 28
5 Maguette Ndiaye Senegal 30

With just 1.5 cards served up per match and a lowly rate of one every 60 minutes, Ramos takes the crown of most lenient referee at the World Cup.

However, there is a strong case to be made for Abdulrahman Al Jassim of host nation Qatar. Unlike Ramos – who only officiated two qualifiers – Al Jassim refereed in a joint-high number of games in the build-up to the finals with six.

Despite taking charge of six qualifiers, he still only handed out 14 cards, but none were red and no penalties were awarded, leaving him with an all-round score of 23.33 according to our Index.

While his record doesn’t quite put him bottom of the pile, he’s certainly one referee players in Qatar won’t be too disappointed to come up against.

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To determine who the most-feared referees at the World Cup, we analysed seven statistics on each of the 36 referees appointed by FIFA for the tournament in Qatar. 

We collected figures for the number of Qatar World Cup qualifiers they refereed, how many cards were shown, what colour the cards were, how many penalties they awarded, their average cards per match count and their minutes per card ratio.

The three strongest metrics – yellow cards, red cards and penalties awarded – were totalled up using a points system similar to that used by UK bookmakers on card betting markets, whereby 10 points were ‘awarded’ for each yellow card, 25 points for each red card and 15 points for each penalty given. 

Each individual tally was then divided by the number of games refereed to give an overall Index Score.


The data was compiled using statistics curated by SportRadar, a sports technology company who provide data to a wide range of global institutions such as UEFA, the National Basketball Association and the International Tennis Federation, among others.

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