Archive for July 1st, 2010

The Future is Asia!

Asian refereeing is on the rise.

Although the national teams have had varying degrees of success in South Africa, the refereeing teams have performed very well.

No-one with any knowledge of Asian football was surprised that FIFA entrusted the first two matches of the competition to two Asian referees – Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan and Yuichi Nishimura of Japan.

These are critical matches for the tournament since the referees set the standards which others have to follow.

Both had excellent matches.

The emergence of two world class referees is a vindication of the refereeing programmes initiated by the Asian Football Confederation. A group of  Elite AFC Referees was created five years ago. This group is responsible for officiating in the many AFC competitions, particularly the Asian Champions League and the Asian Cup.

Over the period, a number of experienced officials have emerged who have regular training courses and and seminars with strong backup from AFC Elite Instructors and Assessors and the AFC administration.

Yuichi and Ravshan are the tangible results of this progress.

But the AFC is also targeting the next generation of  Elite AFC Referees with Project Future Referees, a development programme unique to world football for referees under the age of 25.

They are selected from the seven AFC Festivals of Football and after a further selection course in Kuala Lumpur the best are selected to take part in a two year programme which will give them the opportunity to be part of an international group of young referees, receiving instruction and encouragement from top AFC and FIFA instructors.

They travel to different countries in Asia for courses – Japan, India, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Malaysia – and some even spent a week training with the English Premier League referees in England earlier this year.

Some of the young Project Future Referees are already refereeing in their top national leagues and some have now been appointed to the FIFA List of International Referees.

Asian candidates to referee in  the FIFA World Cups of 2018 and 2022 as well as the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019 are already emerging.

The Future is Asia!

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The geography of referee appointments

The success of the South American teams in the World Cup and the draw itself has had an effect on the referee appointments for the quarter finals

Three matches involve a South American team against a European team – Netherland v Brazil, Argentina v Germany and Paraguay v Spain while the other is South America v Africa – Paraguay v Ghana.

This means that neither a European nor a South American referee would normally be appointed to the first three matches and no South American or African referee would be involved in the other match.

Fortunately for FIFA, the performances in the earlier stages of two of the Asian referees, Ravshan Irmatov of Uzbekistan and Yuichi Nishimura of Japan has made its job much easier than it might have been in previous World Cups.

Both referees have been in charge of three matches each, including the first and second matches of the tournament and have handled them confidently and without fuss.

Yuichi Nishimura has been appointed to the first quarter final on Friday 2nd July between Netherlands and Brazil while the next day Ravshan Irmatov takes charge of the Argentina v Germany clash.

It was expected that a referee from CONCACAF would be appointed to the Paraguay v Spain match and Carlos Batres  from Guatemala, a referee with previous World Cup  experience, is a sensible choice.

The last match is the only one not involving a European team and FIFA has selected Olegario Benquerenca from Portugal.

The next appointments for the semi finals and for the final itself will depend very much on the results of the quarter finals.

Two other referee teams will be appointed for the semi finals but it could be that one of the quarter final referees could be in the running to have his last match in Johannesburg on 11th July.

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Referees in the limelight

The past few days have been tough for the referees at their headquarters in Pretoria.

The round of 16 has passed and the quarter final matches begin on Friday.

There have been departures from Pretoria with 10 teams of officials being released.

I consider this a more accurate way of describing their departure than saying they have been ‘sent home.’

The big story however has been the intervention of the FIFA President, Sepp Blatter.

He has criticized the mistakes of the referees and apologised to the teams involved.

Blatter will be very unhappy to find himself in this position.

The focus of the FIFA World Cup has been switched from the tournament itself to the referees.

Privately he will have strongly criticised what has happened and someone, or some people, will have to pay the price.

FIFA has allegedly invested almost $40 million in its programme to train referees for the 2010 World Cup.

When so many mistakes have happened in high profile matches it will want to know what went wrong and why.

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