African Football

Bakary Gassama retires from active refereeing

Gambia’s renowned football official, Bakary Papa Gassama, has officially retired from refereeing, bringing an end to a remarkable career that spanned nearly two decades.

Widely regarded as one of Africa’s most respected referees, Gassama officiated in prestigious tournaments such as the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and FIFA World Cup finals.

Joining FIFA’s elite panel in 2007, Gassama rose through the ranks, becoming a fixture in the past three FIFA World Cups held in Brazil, Russia, and Qatar.

Starting his career in domestic football leagues in The Gambia, Gassama swiftly ascended to oversee African regional tournaments, earning acclaim for his distinctive style and authoritative command of the game. His retirement marks a commitment to paving the way for younger referees to shine on the global stage.

In response to Gassama’s retirement, the Gambian Football Federation lauded him for his stellar career, emphasizing his legacy of integrity and professionalism.

Throughout his career, Gassama left an indelible mark on African football and beyond, with memorable moments, including officiating in the semifinals of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, where Nigeria secured a 4-1 victory over Mali to reach the tournament’s final.


Bakary Papa Gassama, born on February 10, 1979, is a distinguished Gambian football referee who gained international recognition when he became a FIFA referee in 2007. Over the course of his illustrious career, Gassama has officiated in various prestigious tournaments, showcasing his expertise and contributing to the world of football.

Notable highlights of Gassama’s career include serving as the fourth official for the gold medal match between Mexico and Brazil at the 2012 Olympic tournament. He also officiated matches at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

In recognition of his capabilities, FIFA named Gassama as one of the fifty potential referees for the 2014 World Cup, and he was subsequently selected as one of the 25 referees for the tournament. He officiated critical matches, including the third group stage match between the Netherlands and Chile on June 23, 2014, during the World Cup in Brazil.

Gassama continued to make significant contributions to African and international football, officiating the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire on February 8, 2015. His remarkable performances earned him the role of CAF’s sole referee for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, where he officiated the Group A match between Mexico and New Zealand on June 21, 2017.

Further solidifying his status, FIFA selected Gassama to officiate matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with Jean-Claude Birumushahu and Marwa Range as assistant referees. As a testament to his consistency and excellence, FIFA once again announced his selection to officiate matches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Throughout his career, Bakary Papa Gassama has left an indelible mark on the world of football refereeing, earning respect and admiration for his contributions to the sport.

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