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Kuala Lumpur: Forty Member Associations (MA) from across Asia participated in the bi-annual AFC MA Referee Directors’ Workshop which commenced on Tuesday in the Malaysian capital.

Organised by the AFC Referees Department, the workshop is aimed to strengthen its relation with the MAs, as well as providing a platform for the exchange of information in the areas concerning the enhancement of refereeing in the Continent. The primary objective of the workshop is to establish an efficient communication network with the local referees departments to support a common direction in the development of refereeing organisation, education programmes and administration matters.

The workshop also underlines the Department’s Vision and Mission of extending development support to the AFC MAs and, ultimately, increasing the number of Asian referees at the world-stage.

AFC Referees Committee Deputy Chairperson Hany Taleb B. S. Al-Raeesi who gave the opening remarks said: “We believe that all our Member Associations, regardless of size and stature, can develop top-level officials.

“The AFC is fully committed to supporting you, and our journey to ensure Asian refereeing succeeds on the world stage depends on our ability to work closely together. Continuous improvement and a lifelong dedication to excellence are essential ingredients for us all to succeed.

“Together, I am confident we will build a brighter future for Asian referees.”

Throughout the three-day workshop, the directors and representatives will analyse the refereeing structures at the MA level, and discuss on various topics such as the Laws of the Game amendments, the Additional Assistant Referee system - which will make its debut in the AFC Champions League quarter-finals in August.

They will also examine the physical demands of modern refereeing, along with introducing the AFC Referee Academy that is scheduled to open later this year. The academy curriculum will consist of a four-year programme that operates as talent development and preparing potential referees for the AFC elite referees panel, where the MAs are encouraged to nominate their candidates to be part of the pioneer refereeing education institution. 

Qatar Football Association Referee Director Neji Jouini always looks forward to attending these workshops because of the specialists who give presentation on the latest developments. “In these kind of workshops, we intend to gain new knowledge that we can bring back to Qatar for our own improvement, as well as meeting our Asian colleagues to share ideas,” said Jouini.

The development of referees in Japan has come a long way, but Japan Football Association Referee Director Etsumori Onda believes there are still much that can be done to improve, saying: “I am hoping to have discussions with the other MAs on their achievements in their own countries, because I believe we all face the same problems despite our progress. Having the opportunity to exchange information will definitely be beneficial.”

Kassim Kadir Bacha, Football Association of Malaysia Head of Referees Department said: “The workshop enables us to meet with the AFC instructors and other representatives from the different MAs in Asia. This is the chance for us to not just learn, but to improve on our own capabilities by sharing experiences.”

Photos: AFC