Referee Kevin Azzopardi and assistant referee Duncan Sultana are the latest additions to the FIFA International List. The FIFA badges were presented to the sixteen match officials on the FIFA panel for 2013 by MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo during an activity for referees which was held at the Le Meridien St. Julian’s.
This event was another new initiative started last year where local international match officials are presented with their FIFA Badges in front of their colleagues, observers, mentors and the media.
Photos: Copyright © Joe Borg
Opening the evening’s ceremony, Referees’ Committee Chairman Charles Agius delivered an interesting presentation on the function of the additional assistant referees already being utilised in UEFA matches and other foreign leagues.
MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo, when addressing the large gathering present, said that 2013 will see the MFA maintain its record number of 16 match officials on the FIFA Panel achieved last year. He said that having 16 match officials confirmed on the FIFA List at a time when UEFA and FIFA are trying to reduce the number of international match officials to have more matches allocated to each referee is in itself a feather in the MFA’s cap.
The big investment in refereeing by the MFA is bearing fruit because all our international match officials are performing at the expected level and beyond. Top lecturers from UEFA and FIFA have witnessed the good work being carried out and have commented favourably about what they have seen here, especially the new refereeing structure which sees former experienced referees and assistant referees contributing to a professional set-up.
The President made reference to some on-going projects such as: the success of the Referees’ Academy which is now in its 2nd year; the referees’ exchanges in the past 18 months in which nearly all Elite category Referees and Elite Assistant Referees were involved; and the new Referees Department’s own quarters adjacent to the Centenary Stadium. He also took the opportunity to mention some refereeing initiatives taking place in the next three months.
Mr. Darmanin Demajo thanked the Director of Refereeing Adrian D. Casha (who was indisposed), the Referees’ Committee chaired by Charles Agius, all the referees and assistant referees, referee observers and others in the sector, not least the Malta Football Referees Association who devote much time trying to keep a united refereeing fraternity.
The President then presented the FIFA badges to the 16 officials: 11-a-side referees Esther Azzopardi, Kevin Azzopardi, Marco Borg, Clayton Pisani, Alan Mario Sant, and assistant referees Alan Camilleri, William Debattista, Mariano Debono, Chris Francalanza, Mitchell Scerri, Edward Spiteri, Ingmar Spiteri and Duncan Sultana; Futsal referee Franco Cachia; and Beach Soccer referees Stefan Pace and Jude Amin Utulu.
He also presented mementos to two officials who no longer form part of the FIFA International List: Christopher Lautier (FIFA Referee 2005-2012) and Konrad G. Borg (FIFA Assistant Referee 2002-2012).