The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ is drawing ever nearer – with just 9 days to go! Between now and the start of the World Cup, we will take a closer look at a different statistic from the history of the tournament each day.

9 — matches at the FIFA World Cup™ have been officiated by Uzbekistan’s Ravshan Irmatov, more than any other referee in the tournament’s history. He took charge of a World Cup fixture for the first time during the Opening Match of the 2010 World Cup between hosts South Africa and Mexico. Four more games at that edition followed, including the semi-final between the Netherlands and Uruguay, before Irmatov added another four to his total at Brazil 2014, putting him ahead of France’s Joel Quiniou, Mexico’s Benito Archundia and Uruguay’s Jorge Larrionda, who have all refereed eight World Cup games each.

Irmatov became a FIFA referee in 2003 and since then, his ability and authority on the pitch have continued to improve. Aside from the World Cup, he has overseen four Asian Champions League finals, two FIFA Club World Cup finals and an Asian Cup final, as well as countless other big matches that he has handled with calm and confidence. Ravshan will have the opportunity to extend his record in Russia, as he was included on the list of referees for the 2018 World Cup.