For the first time in post-war history, England will have no referee representative at this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Mark Clattenburg had been included in 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.
Referee chief Mike Riley said that while it is a disappointment, there was no opportunity to replace Clattenburg.
“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.
“It’s more about the timing, not about the quality of our referees.” – Riley added.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup starts on Thursday, 14th June with the opening match between host Russia and Saudi Arabia in Moscow.