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Last Updated: Friday, 14 January, 2005, 07:01 GMT
Poll seeks World Cup appointment
By John Sinnott

Referee Graham Poll (L)
Poll squares up to Fernando Morientes, before his move to Liverpool
Graham Poll is the only British referee with a chance of taking part in the 2006 World Cup finals after Fifa revealed its shortlist of 46 officials.

No Scottish officials make the list, but France, Spain, Germany and Italy each have two referees shortlisted.

Fifa's choice is the latest blow to the standing of under-fire UK referees after a torrid season.

Decisions by Mike Riley and Neale Barry this season have seen them criticised by Premiership bosses and the media.

I think there is more than one English referee that should have been picked
Jeff Winter

Poll, who is one of 18 referees chosen from Uefa, might not even make it to the finals.

The 46 shortlisted referees are due to attend a Fifa workshop in Frankfurt between 12 and 16 February, where they will undergo a medical check-up and a number of theoretical and practical training sessions.

They will be continued to be assessed throughout 2005 in Fifa competitions before the world governing body chooses its final list of 30 referees for the finals.

A Fifa spokesman told BBC Sport: "Candidates were selected based on their performances on the pitch, which have been observed carefully by the FIFA's Referees Committee members over time.

"Nationality of the selected referees was not a factor in the selection process.

"The quality of their refereeing performances in all types of matches, including continental competitions as well as FIFA competitions, was the only criteria taken into consideration."

The Premier League declined comment on the Fifa list, saying it was a matter for the world governing body.

But former referee Jeff Winter told BBC Sport: "It saddens me the powers that be have deemed there is only one English referee good enough.

"I think there is more than one referee that should have been picked."

Winter added the attitude of Premiership managers and the media to referees was not helping their standing in Europe.

"It's do with the way managers and the media behave to officials. Managers look for a scapegoat and that doesn't help us.

"We look for controversial decisions and make mountains out of mole hills."

English officials have had a difficult season with four games provoking huge debate.

On Wednesday Jose Mourinho intimated that Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson had influenced referee Barry after the duo walked down the tunnel together at half-time of the clubs' Carling Cup first-leg semi-final.

Last week Tottenham were denied victory at Old Trafford as a Pedro Mendes shot which crossed the line was not given.

In the aftermath match officials were heavily criticised and there was a renewed call for the introduction of video technology to aid referees.

"What happened against Tottenham was one of the most ridiculous decisions I have ever seen," said Mourinho.

Referee Neale Barry
Barry infuriated Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho

Riley has also been put under the spotlight after awarding a hotly-disputed penalty to Wayne Rooney in Manchester United's defeat of Arsenal.

He also failed to spot Chelsea midfielder Tiago's handball in the penalty area during their 1-0 victory over Liverpool.

Winter strongly defended Barry's performance on Wednesday in the Carling Cup semi-final.

"That's one of the best performances I've seen from a referee this season.

"It's the second time Mourinho has made pointed accusations doubting the integrity of referees and he doesn't do the image of English referees any good."

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