I have a NON-controversial World Cup Referee question! My mom asks me this every World Cup. You have a team from Asia playing a team from Africa with a ref from South America. When the ref calls players over to talk / scold, how do they communicate?
USSF answer (June 28, 2010):
Thank goodness for non-controversial questions!
English is generally recognized as the most-used language in the world for transactions between non-native English speakers who do not speak the other person’s language. All FIFA referees are required to be proficient in English. Of course, that does not apply to players, so the conversations are likely conducted with sign language (as we have seen) or in “Globish,” some variation of English that is generally understandable by both sides.