Lesothoâ€™s top Assistant Referee Souru PhatÅ¡oaneâ€™s dream of becoming the countryâ€™s first referee to officiate at the worldâ€™s biggest footballing showpiece has finally come true after his announcement as part of the officials to man the Soccer World Cup to be staged in Qatar later this year.
The Qatar World Cup was always going to be full of firsts: the first time it will be played in the Middle East; the first time it will be played in November and December; the first time there will be female referees.
And for Lesotho top assistant referee, Souru PhatÅ¡oane it is another milestone for him as he has been appointed the first Mosotho from Lesotho to officiate at the FIFA World Cup.
In January this year at Cameroon, PhatÅ¡oane became the first Mosotho referee to officiate an Africa Cup of Nations final in a clash that featured heavyweights, Senegal and Egypt at Stade Olembe in Yaounde.
He officiated the match as an assistant alongside South African counterparts, Victor Gomes and Zakhele Siwela.
The TÅ¡enola-born assistant referee had made headlines before by officiating at major international competitions and it was not a surprise when his name was drafted for the AFCON finals in Cameroon.
PhatÅ¡oane, after all, had been at the continental showpiece before with his first appearance coming in 2019 in Egypt and has since become a regular in Africaâ€™s top competitions such as the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup.
The 2022 World Cup may also be the first menâ€™s World Cup tournament in which a game is refereed by a woman.
FIFA announced three women among the 36 referees chosen to officiate at the event and three more in the group of assistants that will run the line at the tournament.
36 referees, 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials (VMOs) have been chosen in close cooperation with the six confederations, based on their quality and the performances delivered at FIFA tournaments as well as at other international and domestic competitions in recent years.
Meanwhile, LeFA President Advocate Salemane Phafane (KC), has congratulated PhatÅ¡oane for the global achievement which will continue to place the country on the map, as he has already inked his name in the historic books of football in the country as the first Lesotho referee to officiate the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the CAF Super Cup and the CAF Confederations Cup.
“We are more than proud as the Lesotho Football Association that one of us in Mr. Phats’oane, will be making history when he officiates at the World Cup in Qatar, becoming the first ever Mosotho to do so,” the LeFA President noted. “He has set the bar very high for his colleagues, but overall, we are happy that our referees department continues to grow from strength as they continue to get appointments for different competitions in the continent and beyond,” Phafane said.