(MENAFN- Gulf Times) With less than four months to go to the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023TM, the largest-ever cast of 74 match officials have been appointed to the Continental showpiece, which is scheduled to be held from 12 January to 10 February 2024, across nine world-class venues.
A total of 35 referees and 39 assistant referees – including two standby nominees for each position – from 18 Member Associations have been selected based on their game management skills and competence, technical knowledge, physical fitness as well as performances delivered at the highest levels of both Continental and global football in recent years.
For the first time-ever, women match officials are poised to make their debut at Asia's most prestigimen's national team competition, with Japan's Yoshimi Yamashita – one of six women officials who were historically selected for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 – leading the stellar ensemble of five female match officials appointed to Asia's crown jewel.
At the same time, the most experienced men officials include Alireza Faghani, who will be officiating in his third AFC Asian CupTM as well as Qatar's Abdulrahman al-Jassim, who oversaw the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 third-place playoff between Croatia and Morocco.
History will also be made when the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system makes its full debut in Qatar following its successful implementation from the Quarter-final stage in the last edition in the United Arab Emirates.
To ensure the Confederation maintains the highest refereeing standards, the biggest ever appointment in Continental football history also takes into consideration the expansion of existing roles and introduction of new positions, which include Video Match Officials.
A dynamic, extensive and specially curated preparatory programme spanning more than four years has been implemented to ensure Asia's top officials meet the demands of the modern game.
The appointed referees will gather in Kuala Lumpur in October for a final seminar before all appointed match officials assemble in Qatar for a seven-day preparatory course prior to the competition.
Additionally, more than 20 seminars and workshops have been organised to ensure the highest standards of consistency and uniformity across all levels since the conclusion of the 2019 edition.
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