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Doha: Asian refereeing passed another milestone on Tuesday at the opening of the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) first-ever Additional Assistant Referees (AAR) course in Doha, Qatar.

The AAR system, which aims to strengthen the support for referees and enhance the decision-making process, particularly in the penalty and goal-line area, will be piloted in the knockout stages of the AFC’s flagship club competitions this year.

Asia’s top 42 officials have gathered for the five-day course to fully immerse themselves in the implementation of the new AAR system, which is now part of the Laws of the Game.

The landmark course, which will see participants glean insights from FIFA Head of Refereeing Department Massimo Busacca, is also the first time that the concepts and protocols of the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system, as well as the roles and responsibilities of referee coaches, have been put together in a single programme in Asia.

“Today’s course has been organised to prepare our referees for the next era of world refereeing – an era where Asia’s best continue to appear on the world’s biggest stages”, said Hany Taleb Ballan, Deputy Chairman of the AFC Referees Committee  at the opening of the course.

“Under the banner of One Asia, One Goal, the AFC has set out its Vision and Mission to be the world’s leading Confederation and this new initiative underlines our aspirations.

“Our referees have a key role to play in realising our future ambitions for Asian football and we will continue to invest in their development to ensure that they have the tools, education and resources to meet the demands of modern refereeing.”

The use of additional assistant referees (AAR) was approved by the AFC Referees Committee in Goa, India, in September last year. In the coming days, officials will undergo theoretical sessions as well as a series of practical on-the-field simulations to familiarise themselves with the new application and how best to benefit from the AAR and VAR systems.

The course will end on Saturday with an emphasis on Referee Coaching. As part of efforts to enhance the mentorship of younger referees, Hany Taleb Ballan also announced that the AFC will introduce coaching sessions in the final stages of the age-group competitions to help guide as well as elevate the capabilities of Asia’s most promising referees.

Photo: AFC

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