History made as women to referee men’s AFC Cup clash

The Asian Football Confederation announced Tuesday that for the first time an all-female referee team will take charge of a men’s continental club cup clash.

Japanese referee Yoshimi Yamashita and assistants Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi will officiate the AFC Cup match between Myanmar’s Yangon United and Cambodia’s Naga World at the Thuwunna Stadium on Wednesday.

“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 said in a statement.

The AFC Cup is the second-string Asian club competition, a rung below the AFC Champions League.

Women officals have only previously been employed as assistant referees in AFC Cup matches, with Australians Sarah Ho and Alysson Flynn becoming the first in 2014.

“This is one of my dreams,” said the experienced Yamashita, who officiated in 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.”

Assistant referee Teshirogi said her appointment will inspire female referees in Asia while Bozono said the experience will help in her preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in June, where the trio will be among 12 officials from the AFC.

“It is exciting to work with Yoshimi and Naomi. They are very experienced and have been very supportive. I will learn a lot from them,” Bozono said.