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Ri Hyang-ok aims to inspire the next generation of referees

Kuala Lumpur: Experienced referee Ri Hyang-ok will be making her final bow at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019.

In an exclusive interview with, Ri Hyang-ok shares her dream - to officiate the World Cup final.

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Who is Ri Hyang-ok?

A familiar face on the pitch, Ri Hyang-ok was a former midfielder with the DPR Korea national team and had featured in two FIFA Women’s World Cups in 1999 and 2003.

Twelve years later, Ri arrived on the scene again in Canada, but this time as a referee.

Ri began her refereeing career in 2007, getting her first break in the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Preliminary round, officiating a tie between Chinese Taipei and Uzbekistan.

The 41-year-old went on to officiate several AFC tournaments, including the AFC U-16 and U-19 Championships as well as the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Has she officiated at the FIFA World Cup before?

The 2019 edition will be Ri’s second stint at the World Cup. Her last appearance was in Canada 2015 where she took charge of four matches, including the last-16 tie between Germany and Sweden and the third-place match, where England defeated Germany 1-0.

What does she have to say about her appointment?

“I’m very happy that I was selected as a referee in this World Cup. At the same time, I’m also sad because this will be my final World Cup. I want to retire after this. I love football so I want to stay in football by coaching young referees. I want to see Asian referees improve and become the best referees.”

What will be her greatest achievement?

“As a player, I represented my country in two FIFA Women’s World Cups but we didn’t qualify from the group stage. That’s why I decided to become a referee. My dream is to officiate in the final match. In my first World Cup as a referee, I officiated in the third/fourth place match.”

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images, AFC

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