AFC referees honoured after a landmark year
Kuala Lumpur: Asian referees have set a new benchmark for excellence in 2016, gracing some of the world’s biggest stages. In recognition for their outstanding performances, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Sunday awarded six match officials – three men and women – with the AFC Referees Special Award 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The men’s trio from the Islamic Republic of Iran - Alireza Faghani as well as assistant referees Reza Sokhandan and Mohammad Reza Mansouri - and the women’s team comprising Australians Kate Jacewicz and Renae Coghill as well as India’s Uvena Fernandes - received their awards from the AFC Referees Committee Vice-Chairman, Hany Taleb Ballan Safar (Qatar), at the opening of the AFC Elite Referees and Assistant Referees Seminar taking place in the Malaysian capital.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “The AFC’s Vision and Mission has underlined our desire to ensure Asian players and officials succeed on the world stage. The performances of our men and women referees this year demonstrate once again our continent as a great force in world football and that our referees – both men and women – have earned global respect
“Their achievements serve as a testament to the progressive steps Asian football continues to undertake under the banner of One Asia, One Goal and I am confident that they will continue to do us proud in the years ahead.”
Faghani, Sokhandan and Mansouri made history this year as Asia’s first trio to officiate the final of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament when they took charge of the Brazil versus Germany gold medal match in August in Rio de Janeiro.
During the hugely successful AFC Asian Cup 2015 Australia, Faghani and Sokhandan were appointed to officiate the final match between Korea Republic and host nation Australia. The men’s trio also officiated the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup final in Tokyo, which saw Barcelona take on Argentina’s River Plate.
Jacewicz, Coghill and Uvena Fernandes completed an all-Asian affair when they were selected to officiate in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016 final between DPR Korea and Japan last month. They also featured prominently in the group stages, taking charge of the fixtures between Brazil and England, as well as Venezuela and Germany.
Jacewicz and Coghill, who obtained their FIFA international referee status in 2011 and 2015 respectively, also worked together in the W-League 2016 final between Melbourne City and Sydney FC. Uvena Fernandes is India's first-ever female referee to officiate in a FIFA World Cup.
The AFC Referees Special Awards are the first of the AFC Annual Awards to be presented this year and among four awards that will be presented at specific occasions relevant to the individual recipients. The AFC Futsal Player of the Year, AFC Youth Player of the Year and AFC Asian International Player of the Year awards will also be presented to the respective winners at an appropriate date and venue.
The shortlists for those other AFC Annual Awards are:
AFC FUTSAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1. Aliasghar Hasanzadeh (IR Iran)
2. Ahmad Esmaeilpour (IR Iran)
3. Farhad Tavakoli (IR Iran)
AFC YOUTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR (Men)
1. Ritsu Doan (Japan)
2. Mohammed Dawood (Iraq)
3. Rakan Al Anaze (Saudi Arabia)
1. Fuka Nagano (Japan)
2. Sung Hyang-sim (DPR Korea)
3. Hana Takahashi (Japan)
AFC ASIAN INTERNATIONAL PLAYER OF THE YEAR
1. Shinji Okazaki (Leicester City/Japan)
2. Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund/Japan)
3. Son Heung-min (Tottenham Hostpur/Korea Republic)