Indian Football

Top five referees in Indian football right now

Manas P. KashyapManas P. Kashyap

September 11 2023

As the new Indian football season starts, we look at the best referees in the country at this moment.

Football referees are a unique breed of individuals. They are at the heart of decision-making on the football field, ensuring all’s fair and square at the end of the game. Yet theirs’ is an unforgiving job, a role that rarely garners gratitude. The on-field decisions of a referee come under severe scrutiny among football fans, inviting criticism, condemnation and even mistreatment aimed towards them.

That being said, ‘the beautiful game’ cannot be appreciated without the tireless efforts of the best referees. Khel Now takes a look at the top five referees in Indian football right now. But we won’t be ranking them!

Aditya Purkayastha

Indian football best referees Aditya Purkayastha
Aditya Purkayastha doing the toss. (Courtesy: Instagram)

Aditya Purkayastha has accumulated invaluable experiences by officiating in the I-League 2nd division, I-League, ISL, Durand Cup and other AIFF events. He is one of the Category 1 referees empanelled by AIFF. In July 2020, he was one of the 50 football referees who benefitted from the online FIFA M.A. Course for referees organized by the AIFF.

Pranjal Banerjee

Indian football best referees Pranjal Banerjee
Pranjal Banerjee. (Courtesy: Arunava for Football)

Hailing from Kolkata, Pranjal Banerjee is a professional Indian referee who officiates in the I-League, ISL among others. Since 2015, he has been an empanelled AFC Elite Referee. Banerjee bagged the AIFF Referee of the Year 2016 for his decisiveness. He was one of the 16 Indian match officials who got a rare opportunity to train with the 77 enlisted FIFA officials who were in charge of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2017 held in India.

Harish Kundu

Indian football best referees Harish Kundu
Harish Kundu. (Courtesy: Football Delhi)

One of the most disciplined referees in the Indian domestic football circuit, Harish Kundu has officiated in I-League 2nd Division, I-League, ISL, Durand Cup, Intercontinental Cup among other tournaments. In January 2023, Kundu along with Rahul Gupta were two of the eight referees in the first batch of elite match officials to be awarded full-time contracts under the Elite Refereeing Development Programme (ERDP) of Indian football.

Rahul Gupta

Indian football best referees Rahul Gupta
Rahul Gupta. (Courtesy: ISL)

Rahul Gupta is one of the most experienced football referees in India’s domestic football circuit of recent times. In July this year, Gupta was awarded the AIFF Referee of the Year, the country’s top prize in the profession. He also officiated the final of the Durand Cup 2023, the ‘Kolkata Derby’ which eventually Mohun Bagan Super Giant won 1-0.

C.R. Srikrishna

Indian football best referees C.R. Srikrishna
C.R. Srikrishna. (Courtesy: ISL)

Coimbatore Ramaswamy Srikrishna, better known as C.R. Srikrishna in the footballing fraternity, hails from Tamil Nadu. It was in 2008 that Srikrishna started out by officiating I-League games and other AIFF events. Later in 2010, he was enlisted as a FIFA match official. His hardwork and decisiveness has earned him the AIFF Referee of the Year on three occasions, 2011-12, 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons, respectively. Over the years, C.R. Srikrishna has officiated in the ISL, I-League, Durand Cup, Federation Cup, AFC Cup, Intercontinental Cup among other competitions.

Referees constantly keep facing the ire of football lovers, something that is never going to stop as long as the game continues to be played. There is no denying the fact that controversial decisions are made based on the actions of play at that particular split second but then no one is error-free. It is important that the AIFF, the AFC and the FIFA work together to introduce technology in Indian football which will assist the referees and ensure the integrity of the game in the long run.

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