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Argentine referee for World Cup opener

Argentina’s Nestor Pitana has been assigned as the referee for the Opening Match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup between Russia and Saudi Arabia on Thursday at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

He will be assisted by compatriots Juan Pablo Bellati and Hernan Maidana, with Sandro Ricci from Brazil designated as the fourth official.

The Video Assistant Referee team is composed by Massimiliano Irrati of Italy (VAR); Mauro Vigliano of Argentina (AVR 1); Carlos Astroza of Chile (AVR2) and Daniele Orsato, Italy (AVR3).

Nestor Pitana is set to become the second Argentinian referee to participate in two World Cups after Norberto Coerezza, who oversaw two games in 1970 and one in 1978. Pitana is one of South America’s most experienced referees.

He made his debut in the Argentinian league in 2007 and officiated his first international match in 2010. At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, he oversaw four fixtures including France-Germany in the quarterfinals.

Pitana returned to Brazil in 2016 for the Olympic Football Tournament where he was the man in the middle for the semi-final between Germany and Nigeria. A year later in 2017, he was involved in another semi-final, in the FIFA Confederations Cup between Germany and Mexico.

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