Why don't England have a referee at the World Cup?
Last Updated: 19/03/18 12:48pm
For the first time in post-war history, England will have no referee representative at this summer's World Cup.
Mark Clattenburg had been included on the pre-selected group drawn up by FIFA in 2016 and was involved in training for the tournament in Russia, before leaving the Premier League and moving to Saudi Arabia in February.
But speaking on Sky Sports News for Support The Ref week, referee chief Mike Riley said that while it is a disappointment, there was no opportunity to replace Clattenburg.
Support The Ref week
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"It is a disappointment, because we pride ourselves on the international games that our referees have had over the years, and if you look back over the last 10 years, no country has been more successful in that than we have," said Riley.
"But if you look at the process, Mark was included in the long list who were selected for preparation for the World Cup, and all those referees have been through a training programme.
"At the time Mark left for Saudi Arabia, there were actually no competitions left to train the referees, so there was no opportunity to replace him with another English referee.
"You can understand it from FIFA's point of view; if they spent their time training and preparing refs for that competition, as part of that programme they want that pool of referees to represent them.
"It's more about the timing, not about the quality of our referees."
England has a proud history of officiating in international tournaments; Howard Webb took charge of the 2010 final between Spain and the Netherlands in South Africa, while the 1974 (Jack Taylor), 1954 (William Ling) and 1950 (George Reader) finals were all refereed by an Englishman.
Clattenburg also took charge of the Euro 2016 final in France, and Riley is adamant the likes of Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor will have their chances in future major tournaments.
"Whilst it's disappointing, we look to the future, and we look at the games both Michael Oliver and Anthony Taylor have had in European competitions this season, and you can see their progress and development.
"We can see the opportunities they will have to represent us over the years to come at international level."
Follow the debate all week on SSN and on our digital platforms at www.skysports.com/supporttheref