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From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 75: KARAKIDA Tetsu, Referee Director/Cambodia

27 January 2023

From Pitches in Asia – Report from JFA Coaches/Instructors Vol. 75: KARAKIDA Tetsu, Referee Director/Cambodia

Year 2022 in review – Referees in Cambodia

Revamp of Cambodia’s professional football league

Cambodia’s professional football league underwent significant changes in 2022. Notably, the number of teams in the first and second divisions was reversed from the previous year, with 8 teams in the newly established Cambodia Premier League, and 12 teams in the Cambodian League 2. The first division has undoubtedly become more intense since the implementation of an eight-team, triple-round-robin format with top four teams competing in the play-offs in a home-and-away format. There were only one draw and no scoreless matches during the 12 play-off matches, which featured high-intensity competition with home teams averaging 2.2 goals and away teams averaging 1.7 goals per match.

Prior to the play-offs, we instructed the referees to “let the players play football” and to “be attentive to the players and try to empathise with the players and coaches.” This allowed the referees to adopt a different “approach” from the league matches, which made the play-off matches more exciting, and we are confident that this represents a new step forward for the referees in Cambodia.

Cambodia's first female FIFA International Referees selected to AFC Elite Panel

In 2022, we were able to realise our long-held dream of having Cambodian female referees named in FIFA’s Refereeing International List (one referee and one assistant referee). A predetermined number of candidates are nominated by the member associations and are accepted by FIFA to become International Referees upon due assessment. FIFA does not evaluate candidates' fitness levels, refereeing abilities, or proficiency in the English language; instead, member associations are responsible for doing so during the application process. Furthermore, in order to be appointed to matches organised by the AFC, a referee must be selected in the “AFC Elite Panel.” Each year, male FIFA international referees in Cambodia have attempted to be included into this panel, but none of them has been successful so far. As a result, they are only permitted to officiate matches hosted by the ASEAN Football Federation.

This year, we had two female FIFA international referees apply to the AFC Elite Panel for the first time. They passed the first screening, tests on the Laws of the Game, judgement skills, and proficiency in the English language, followed by a second screening, a fitness test (video submission) and a video assessment of two matches, before being selected in the AFC Elite Panel 2023. They have made significant progress to reach the highest level in Asia, and we are hopeful that they will share the knowledge they have gained to advance the standard of both male and female referees in Cambodia.

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