Iranian female referees create Asian futsal history 

Kuala Lumpur: Asian refereeing marked a historic milestone this week when Islamic Republic of Iran match officials Fathi Zari and Gelareh Nazemi became the first female referees to officiate in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) men’s futsal competition.

Zari was the first to carve her name in the history books after being appointed as the Second Referee of the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021 Asian Playoff tie between Vietnam and Lebanon on Sunday, with Nazemi selected for the same position in the return leg on Tuesday, which saw the Southeast Asians clinch their spot for the global futsal showpiece.

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Zari and Nazemi are no strangers to the big occasion, with both appointed to officiate in the AFC Women’s Futsal Championship as well as the UEFA Women's Futsal Euro 2019 semi-final contest between Spain and Russia in Portugal.

The trailblazing duo’s selection reinforces once again the AFC’s determination to promote women’s football and its female officials following the growing opportunities of similar appointments in other men’s competition.

In May 2019, Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita alongside assistant referees Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi became the first all-female cast to officiate an AFC Cup match between Myanmar’s Yangon United FC and Naga World of Cambodia.

Similarly, female assistant referees Kim Kyoung-min and Lee Seul-gi also officiated in the AFC Cup match between Ceres Negros FC from the Philippines and Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong in 2019.

Following the conclusion of Tuesday’s Asian Playoffs, Vietnam and Thailand have secured their places alongside Japan, IR Iran and Uzbekistan as Asia’s five representatives at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2021, which is scheduled to take place from September 12 to October 3.

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