AFC referees recognised for world-class achievement
Abu Dhabi: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) today presented the 2018 AFC Referees Special Award to the men’s trio from the Islamic Republic of Iran - Alireza Faghani, assistant referees Reza Sokhandan and Mohammad Reza Mansouri – at the Armed Forces Officers Club and Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The trio were honoured for their appointment to the third-place playoff between Belgium and England in Saint Petersburg at the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018, where the AFC were represented by a record 16 match officials.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who presented the trio with their awards on the eve of the biggest-ever AFC Asian Cup which kicks off tomorrow at the Zayed Sports City Stadium said: “There is no better way to honour Asia’s finest match officials than to do it here in the UAE on the eve of the biggest ever AFC Asian Cup.
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“We will witness the largest-ever cast of Asia’s best teams, and we will also welcome a record number of match officials who will grace the stage.
“When we launched the AFC Vision and Mission in early 2016, our aim was to be the world’s leading Confederation. It was an ambitious aspiration, but we are already seeing our Vision come to life.
“Each year, Asian refereeing continues to set new standards of excellence and the incredible performances of our match officials reinforce the Continent’s position as global leaders in refereeing.
“The achievement of our trio is inspiration not just for our match officials, but also is a level of excellence that players, officials and coaches aspire to and it is the AFC’s aim to build on this incredible momentum and undeniable promise.
“We have invested in our referees and the AFC will invest even more in the next two years to ensure our referees remain at the top of the world game and develop even further.”
This is the second time the Iranian trio have been recognised for their achievements after receiving the same award in 2016 for officiating the 2015 FIFA Club World Cup final between River Plate and eventual winners Barcelona in Yokohama, Japan.
Less than nine months later, Faghani, Sokhandan and Reza Mansouri created history by becoming the first Asian refereeing team to officiate in the final of the Men's Olympic Football Tournament between Germany and gold medallist Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.
Faghani, who officiated the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 final between the host nation and Korea Republic, joins an exclusive group of Asian referees to have officiated in the FIFA World Cup third-place playoff, which include UAE's Ali Bujsaim in USA 1994, Kuwait’s Saad Kameel in Korea/Japan 2002 and Toru Kamikawa from Japan in Germany 2006.
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