Szymon Marciniak will be the first referee from Poland to officiate a World Cup final when France take on Argentina on Sunday, a dream come true for the Pole who was forced to step away from his duties a year ago due to a heart illness.
The 41-year-old, who became a Fifa referee in 2011, was all set to officiate in the European Championship last year before he was diagnosed with Tachycardia.
“I had a very difficult time for the last year-and-a-half. I had Tachycardia – it’s a heart illness. In the beginning, it was very difficult for me and I had to stop refereeing,” Marciniak said.
“I missed the Uefa European Championship, it was a terrible feeling. Now, life gives back to me and I cannot even stop smiling because it’s a great feeling.”
Reigning champions France take on Lionel Messi’s high-flying Argentina at the near-90 000 capacity Lusail Stadium. Marciniak has already officiated in games involving the two teams in Qatar.
He took charge in France’s 2-1 group stage win over Denmark where Kylian Mbappe scored twice before watching Messi lead Argentina to a 2-1 win over Australia in the last 16.
Marciniak is not the only Polish official who will be on the pitch, however. He will be assisted by compatriots Pawel Sokolnicki and Tomasz Listkiewicz – all of whom worked together at the 2018 World Cup in Russia as well.
Poland’s Tomasz Kwiatkowski will be in his ear as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) while American Ismail Elfath – a two-times Major League Soccer Referee of the Year – will be the fourth official.