MFRA celebrates 60th anniversary

The Malta Football Referees Association revealed a programme of activities which mark the association’s 60th anniversary during a press conference which was held at Teamsport Iklin on Friday.
MFRA president Lorry Sammut spoke about the association’s history saying that prior to 1949, there was another association – the Football Referees Association. However following a clash between the FRA and the MFA in May 1949 over which body had to make referees’ appointments, the referees’ association called a strike and the MFA brought foreign referees to control matches.
In November 1949, the Malta Football Referees Association was founded with Billy Mock being its first president.
Sammut mentioned some of the association’s highlights including the first appointment abroad for Turu Lentini in 1962 and hence the first appointment in a European clubs competition abroad for Joe Cassar Naudi. Cassar Naudi was eventually awarded with the Midalja ghall-Qadi tar-Repubblika in 1993.
In 1998, a member of the MFRA, Emmanuel Zammit, was the first Maltese referee to officiate in World Cup matches. He was assistant referee in three matches including the final for third and fourth place.
The MFRA president also mentioned dark times and in particular, the bombing of the house of referee Twanny Agius in the night between February 20 and 21, 1985 – an episode which shocked the association’s members, resulting in tension and fear. The MFRA reacted by ordering a strike for the matches scheduled for February 23 and 24. The Malta Football Association fined the referees for this strike.
Sammut thanked his predecessors, namely Billy Mock, Major Alfred Briffa, Joe Cassar Naudi, Paul Bonnett, Tonio Briguglio, Lino Debono, Patrick Fenech and Mark Spiteri. He said that in recent years the association worked hard to change the mentality of referees in view of a more professional attitude. He said the association fought for security in football grounds until an agreement was reached. The association worked hard to establish the uniformity of kits and collective training for referees. The fact that the MFA president, was also chairman of the Referees Board, helped considerably. 
The MFRA is now a member association within the Malta Football Association and is represented by two council members.
Sammut appealed for more youths to take up the career of a referee. He said that this could be the right career for players who feel that they cannot make the grade with the first team. They will receive all necessary support by their colleagues as referees.
The MFRA president concluded that the association was there for the service of the game.
Vice President Alex Arena then proceeded to outline the activities marking the association’s 60th anniversary which will be held over the coming days. 
The first activity will be a mass for all past and present members in Pembroke on Sunday December 6. Mass will celebrated by Archbishop Paul Cremona. On Monday 7, the MFRA will be taking part in a triangular tournament – “Goal ghall-Istrina” while on Tuesday 8, members are invited to attend a cultural visit. Referees will be visiting schools on Wednesday 9 in order to attract more children to this career while on Thursday 10, officials will be paying a visit to Mater Dei Hospital.
MFRA officials will be visiting the President of the Republic Dr George Abela on Friday 11. Activities come to an end on Saturday 12 with voluntary work at St. Joseph’s Home in the morning and a reception at Montekristo Estates in the evening. 
The association invites any of its ex-members who want to join in these celebrations by contacting any of its officials.
More information is available at