THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

AFC women’s match officials poised to create history

AFC Champions League

Asian football history will be made in the AFC Champions League 2022™ Group Stage later today as Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan is poised to become the first female referee to manage a tie in the Continent’s premier men’s club competition.

Alongside Yamashita, Assistant Referees, Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi have also been appointed to officiate tonight’s Group G match between Melbourne City FC and Jeonnam Dragons, which is scheduled to be held at the Pathum Thani Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand at 9:00pm (local time).

The trio are part of this season’s AFC Champions League™ match officials’ team, also comprising Malaysian Referee Assessor Widiya Habibah Binti Shamsuri and Assistant Referee Kim Kyoung-min from the Korea Republic, who earlier made history when she was appointed to the Group J contest between Kitchee SC and Chiangrai United on April 16.

The experienced women match officials are no strangers to the men’s competitions. In May 2019, Yamashita alongside Bozono and Teshirogi became the first all-female cast to officiate an AFC Cup™ match when they oversaw the tie between Myanmar’s Yangon United FC and Naga World of Cambodia.

Similarly, Kim also officiated the AFC Cup™ match between Ceres Negros FC from the Philippines and Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong in 2019 and all four female officials were also appointed to the AFC U23 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2022™ Qualifiers in October 2021.

The quartet, who passed the demanding fitness test and matched all the requirements for men officials before their selection, were also part of the largest-ever cast of AFC women’s match officials at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™, where the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system was implemented from the Quarter-finals for the first time.

Their selection reinforces the AFC’s commitment to strengthen and develop the women’s game at all levels as well as in ensuring the AFC’s women match officials continue to receive the highest standards of quality education and expert guidance to scale the biggest stages in world football.