Breaking boundaries: AFC appoints first female refereeing team to men’s club

May 14 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is making history in the region by announcing that for the first time an all-female officiating trio will take charge of a men’s continental club game.

Referee Yoshimi Yamashita and assistants Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi, all from Japan, will take charge of Yangon United’s final Group F AFC Cup match between Myanmar’s Yangon United and Cambodia’s Naga World on Wednesday after passing a fitness test similar to the one required for male officials.

“This is one of my dreams,” said Yamashita, who has officiated at the 2016 and 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and 2018 Women’s Asian Cup. “We’ve worked very hard and this is the result. I have to thank the AFC for giving us this opportunity to join the history books in women’s refereeing in Asia.”

Yamashita joins the likes of Stephanie Frappart and Bibiana Steinhaus, who have officiated top flight men’s games in France and Germany, respectively.

The Japanese trio are also part of the AFC’s list of 12 Asian match officials who will be at this year’s Women’s World Cup in France, which starts on June 7.

The AFC Cup is the second-string Asian club competition below the prestigious AFC Champions League. Women officials have only previously been employed as assistant referees in AFC Cup matches.

“This will be the first time three female referees preside in the Asian Football Confederation’s club competitions, marking a new milestone in Asian refereeing,” the AFC confirmed in a statement.

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