The 2022 FIFA World Cup is due to kick off on November 21st in Qatar, the first time the quadrennial football – and perhaps the world’s greatest – tournament will be held in the Arab world. Millions of people around the world will have their eyes glued to their screens for four weeks as the world’s greatest footballers take centre stage in the hopes of seeing their country come home with the coveted trophy.
But, for all the goals and glamour, there will inevitably be a fair share of players having run ins with the referees (who can forget French footballer Zinedine Zidane’s red card for his headbutt on Italian player Marco Matarazzi?). But there is one referee who – if he ends up being a referee in this year’s world cup – players will want to put on a conscientious performance for: Anderson Daronco.
Daronco is from Brazil and after studying on a referee course, he became a qualified FIFA referee in 2014 and was selected to take part in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Putting his qualifications to one side for a moment, however, we need to talk about how jacked this man is.
It’s not uncommon for players to argue with a referee’s decision on the pitch, usually to no avail (although with the introduction of VAR technology, sometimes the ref can be coerced into double checking a decision) we can’t imagine many players would feel comfortable squaring up to Daronco.
While it’s unlikely that Daronco will appear at the tournament in Qatar (he could end up as a VAR referee, according to this refereeing forum), Sports Brief reports that he did recently referee a World Cup qualifying match between Uruguay and Peru, which proved how tough the man is.
The Uruguayan goalkeeper Sergio Rochet caught the ball from a shot by Peru’s Miguel Trauco, but was believed to have stepped back across the line, taking the ball with him. The Peruvian players protested the goal wasn’t awarded, and Daronco didn’t even consult with the VAR, he just simply didn’t award it. The event caused many users on social media to claim the Peruvian players weren’t going to protest any further, purely based on the size of Daronco’s arms.
Since images went viral online, Daronco has now been dubbed the world’s strongest referee – and has been officially nicknamed ‘The Strong Judge’ – thanks in no small part to the size of his arms. He’s no slouch, either, as it’s been claimed he’s capable of running 40-metres in under six seconds.
Despite his size and stature, Daronco is known for his sound judgement when on the football field. In August 2019, he stopped a game between Brazilian clubs Vasco da Game and São Paulo after hearing homophobic slurs from the Vasco fans. It marked the first time a match was halted in Brazil due to homophobic comments.
Daronco was quoted as saying, “Obviously it’s not something in my head, we have an orientation in this direction. FIFA itself has been sanctioning national teams and clubs when similar acts occur, and we do not only cling to homophobic song, we have a whole issue involving racism, or facts that can incite violence, such as banners on the field and xenophobic songs.”
“At the first moment we have the opportunity to realise it, we have to stop and measures to stop it.”
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin on 21st November, with the first matches involving groups A and B. These will be Qatar vs Ecuador; Senegal vs Netherlands; England vs Iran and USA vs the winner of a match between Wales and either Scotland or Ukraine. This match is scheduled to take place in June.