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Argentine referee Néstor Pitana chosen to oversee World Cup opener

Pitana selected to over Russia's opening match against Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday 13 June, 2018
Argentine referee Néstor Pitana gestures during a training session in Moscow on Tuesday.
Argentine referee Néstor Pitana gestures during a training session in Moscow on Tuesday. Foto:AP-Pavel Golovkin

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FIFA has appointed referee Nestor Pitana of Argentina to handle the opening game of the World Cup.

The Russia-Saudi Arabia match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday will be the first World Cup game to use video review of decisions.

FIFA chose Massimiliano Irrati of Italy as the specialist leading a team of four VR officials who analyze the action for possible clear errors and serious incidents missed by Pitana's team on the field.

VAR has been tested this season in both Germany's Bundesliga and Italy's Serie A but has been blighted by errors and confusing decisions.

"We are ready to give our best and show consistency but without the good attitude of players it will be very difficult for us," said FIFA's director of referees Massimo Busacca.

One of the video review officials, working at a FIFA control centre in the Moscow suburbs, specialises in analyzing offside calls and another checks their work for errors.

Pitana, 42, is working at his second World Cup. He handled four games in Brazil four years ago.

The Argentine will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Belatti and Hernán Maidana, with Sandro Ricci from Brazil designated as the fourth official. 





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