The world’s most popular sporting event uses a more democratic
than meritocratic process for choosing referees. While the World
Cup’s 32 teams must play their way into the tournament through a
grueling two-year qualifying process, FIFA, the sport’s governing
body, pulls referees from more than 40 countries out of a sense of
fairness to all of its member associations. It is similar to how
basketball’s world governing body plucks officials from around the
world to work the Olympic tournament.
It’s a contrast from the meritocracy that determines who
officiates the postseason for major U.S. sports.