RUSAPE-BASED three-time Castle Lager Premiership referee of the year, Brighton Chimene, is keeping alive his dream of officiating at the global football showcase — the FIFA World Cup.
The soft spoken and humble match official, whose firm grip when handling top-flight and continental football matches is in stark contrast to his modest nature, was crowned the 2023 referee of the year for the third time in his glowing career during a glamourous soccer stars of the year banquet in Harare last Friday.
The former Vengere High School learner, Chimene, was on the winners’ podium during the 2014 and 2019 editions of the same event.
In an interview soon after receiving his award, Chimene said: “It is quite an honour to receive this one. It has not been easy. There are a lot of equally competent referees out there, but I thank God it had to be me. I am delighted.”
Asked about his long term ambitions in his glowing career, Chimene did not mince his words, saying: “It has always been my aspiration to officiate at the highest level (the FIFA World Cup) in terms of football refereeing. So hopefully and by the grace of God, I will reach that stage.”
The 32-year-old match official, who is turning 33 next Thursday, joined the FIFA Panel in 2019 and has age on his side.
Given the experience and maturity he has been gaining in recent years, let alone his trademark flawless performances, Chimene is surely poised for greater heights.
Chimene opted to be a match official as a way of atoning for his failure to fulfil his passion to play the game in high school.
He has so far officiated in a number of regional and continental football competitions.
Apart from the regional COSAFA Cup finals, Chimene was part of the match officials’ panel for the 2016 COSAFA Under-17s finals played in Mauritius as well as numerous CAF continental club competition matches.
Chimene was the centre referee when Kaizer Chiefs Class of 2020 wrote their own piece of history by becoming the first Amakhosi group to reach the mini league phase of the revered competition.
Amakhosi edged Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto 1-0 on aggregate in their CAF Champions League tie.
Brighton Mudzamiri is the only Zimbabwean referee to have officiated at the World Cup, but as an assistant referee.