AFC breaks ground with first women medics appointed to men’s club competition

November 24 – The AFC has taken another significant step towards promoting gender equality in its region, appointing four women medical officers to the nine person medical and doping control team at the AFC Champions League (East) currently being played in Doha, Qatar.

Dr. Zohreh Haratian and Dr. Bahar Hassanmiraei  from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Dr. Janis Ann Figueroa Espino-De Vera from the Philippines and Dr. Liesel Geertsema from New Zealand are on duty in Qatar and are the first women medical officers to be appointed in an Asian Football Confedetaion (AFC) men’s club competition.

Dr. Zohreh, who has been in the forefront battling the Covid-19 pandemic in her country, said: “There has been a revolution in the development of women’s football since women referees took part in the AFC Cup last year. As a former futsal player, it has always been one of my dreams to participate in a men’s tournament, and now this dream has come true. I am very happy to be one of the first lady doctors in a men’s tournament.”

Opening up the competition staffing is part “the AFC’s continued commitment to promote and create equal opportunities for women in the Asian football workforce,” said an AFC release.

Last year, Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita alongside assistant referees Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi officiated in an AFC Cup match for the first time while Kim Se-in from Korea Republic, Nguyen Thanh Ha of Vietnam, Lau Cheuk Chi of Hong Kong and Kanya Keomany of Laos were selected as the first women match commissioners in the joint Asian Qualifiers.

Keomany was also appointed as the match commissioner in the 2019 AFC Cup Final, the first time a female was selected to take charge in a men’s Final.

Dr. Espino-De Vera emphasised this is an opportunity to set an example for women working in sports medicine. “This is a chance for women to show that we are capable in the field of Football Medicine. This paves the way for other women not just in Football Medicine, but in other fields as well. The AFC has shown that they recognise and appoint people based on merit.”

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