Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on Tuesday celebrated the achievements of its leading match officials at the start of the biggest-ever AFC Refereeing Conference which was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The opening ceremony honoured eight referees and assistant referees who were presented the AFC Referees Memento Award. The officials were recognised for their outstanding service in raising the refereeing standards in Asia.
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Three-time FIFA World Cup referee, Ravshan Irmatov from Uzbekistan was joined by Australia’s Peter Daniel Green and Nagor Amir bin Noor Mohamed from Malaysia in receiving the award in the Referees category.
Among the assistant referees who received the recognition were Kochkarov Bakhadyr of Kyrgyz Republic, China PR’s Cui Yongmei and Huo Weiming, Islamic Republic of Iran’s Sokhandan Reza and Singapore’s Lee Tzu Liang, all of whom have graced some of the biggest stages in world football.
AFC General Secretary, Dato’ Windsor John, who opened the ceremony, said: “I’m proud to say that our Asian referees are among the best in the world.
“For the first time ever, we bring together elite referees – both men and women – and assistant referees as well as referee assessors in one room.
“The AFC is committed to providing you with the necessary tools and information to enhance your knowledge.
“As the sport grows, so does the demands and expectations on our referees,” said Dato’ Windsor.
Irmatov, who is widely regarded as one of the best match officials in the world of refereeing, said: “It was a real honour to serve AFC for 17 seasons, I have very fond memories, after five AFC Champions League finals, four AFC Asian Cups two finals including three FIFA World Cups.
“This award is the achievement of the people who have taught me throughout my career. Without their effort and that of the AFC, it would be impossible to reach where I have.
“I would also like to thank my family members, assistants, friends and fans from Asia and Uzbekistan. I've always felt their warm support.
“I'm proud to be part of Asian football family. Now it's time to pass the mantle over to my younger colleagues. I'm sure they will put highest goal and work hard to achieve it.” added the five-time AFC Referee of the Year award recipient.
China PR’s Cui Yongmei, who joined the AFC assistant referees panel in 2008, said: “I’m so grateful and appreciative to the AFC. It’s a beautiful memento to summarise the 12 years I’ve spent as a referee.
“I want to thank AFC for the huge support in providing us with a good learning environment, I’m so lucky to be part of some of the important women’s tournaments. It’s a memorable experience.”
Reza Sokhandan of Islamic Republic of Iran, who has been a FIFA assistant referee for 17 years, said: “Thanks to the AFC for this award, this really means a lot to me. I’ve learned so much during my career and this year, Asian referees have performed well in AFC and FIFA tournaments.
“Being a top official is not easy. A referee must work hard and think professionally to stay competitive.”
Korea Republic referee Kim Dong-jin, DPR Korea referee Ri Hyang-ok and assistant referee Hong Kum-nyo, and referee assessor Enayat Masoud of Islamic Republic of Iran, who were unable to attend the ceremony, completed the list of 2020 awardees.
There were a total of 369 participants – consisting 65 referee assessors and 304 referees and assistant referees during the two day conference which gathered men and women elite referees and assistant referees, and referee assessors for the first time.
The first day of the landmark course also saw participants glean insights from FIFA Head of Refereeing Department Massimo Busacca, who shared the latest amendments to the laws of the game.
IFAB Technical Director David Elleray also provided an overview on the protocols of the Video Assistant Referees system.
List of recipients
Peter Daniel Green (AUS)
Nagor Amir Bin Noor Mohamed (MAS)
Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Kim Dong-jin (KOR)
Ri Hyang-ok (PRK)
Cui Yongmei (CHN)
Huo Weiming (CHN)
Reza Sokhandan (IRN)
Bakhadyr Kochkarov (KGZ)
Lee Tzu Liang (SIN)
Hong Kum-nyo (PRK)
Masoud Enayat (IRN)
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