Number of Asian Referees Growing in FIFA World Cup

Iranian referee Alireza Faghani is among the Asian match officials selected to judge at the World Cup; he has refereed important matches including the 2014 AFC Champions League Final, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final, 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final and the final
Alireza FaghaniAlireza Faghani

The world-class stature of AFC referees is underlined after a record 16 match officials from Asia have been selected to officiate at the upcoming FIFA World Cup Russia in summer.

The recognition from FIFA will see Asia surpass its biggest-ever contingent of 14 match officials at the World Cup in Brazil four years ago, which featured four trio teams and one support duo team who were deployed as fourth and fifth officials, the AFC reported on its website.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate our match officials on their appointments at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018”.

“The AFC Vision and Mission underlines our ambitions to be the world’s leading confederation and to ensure the success of our players, teams and officials. This recognition from FIFA reinforces once again the undeniable progress of Asian refereeing,” he added.

“I wish our match officials the very best in Russia and I am confident that this achievement will serve as an inspiration, not only for tomorrow’s generation of match officials, but for all our teams and players to do Asia proud at the FIFA World Cup,” the AFC president noted.

Returning to the pinnacle of world football, five-time AFC Referee of the Year Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan will become the third AFC referee to officiate in three consecutive FIFA World Cups, after Jamal Al Sharif of Syria and Ali Bujsaim from the UAE.

 Faghani in Center

Irmatov will be joined in Russia by Nawaf Abdulla Shukralla from Bahrain and Iran’s Alireza Faghani as the only Asian referees in Russia to feature in more than one FIFA World Cup.

Faghani, 39, has been officiating in Persian Gulf Pro League for seven seasons and in the international arena since 2008.

He has refereed important matches including the 2014 AFC Champions League Final, 2015 AFC Asian Cup Final, 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Final and the final football match in 2016 Olympics.

After becoming a FIFA referee in 2008, Faghani has moved up the ladder relatively fast, especially in Asia. After only one year of international experience, Faghani took charge of the 2009 AFC President’s Cup Final. Later he was again in charge of a final but this time it was a much more important final in the 2010 AFC Challenge Cup where the winner qualified for the 2011 AFC Asian Cup.

He was named the fourth referee for the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup between Brazil and Croatia.

Perhaps the most important match in which he was the main referee was the 2016 Olympic football final match between host Brazil and Germany. Faghani also served as a referee in two matches of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia.

He was honored as Referee of the Year by the Asian Football Confederation in 2015. He was also named Referee of the Year in 2013-14 and 2016-17 by the Football Federation of Iran.

Meanwhile among the assistant referees, Japan’s Toru Sagara will be featuring for the third time while Abduxamidullo Rasulov from Uzbekistan and Bahraini Abdulla Tulefat Yaser Khalil will be making their second appearance in Russia.

Among the stellar cast of referees poised to make their first-ever appearance are Fahad Al Mirdasi from Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Mohammed Abdulla from the UAE and Japan’s Ryuji Sato.

They will be assisted by Saudi Arabian pair Abdulah Alshalwai, Mohammed Al Abakry, the Iranian duo Reza Sokhandan and Mohammadreza Mansouri, Uzbekistan’s Jakhongir Saidov, Mohamed Alhammadi from the UAE and Qatar’s Taleb Salem Al-Marri.

The AFC’s match officials contingent could be expanded further when the selection for Video Assistant Referees is confirmed by FIFA which also announced the selected match officials will operate in a variety of roles, e.g. referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, reserve assistant referees and video match officials.

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