After losing one referee and two assistant referees from the FIFA Panel, Malta will once again have four referees and eight assistant referees following the inclusion of referee Adrian Azzopardi and assistant referees Jurgen Spiteri, Duncan Sultana and Roberto Vella. Meanwhile referees Clayton Pisani and Alan Mario Sant were promoted to Category One and Category Two.
Marco Borg, Clayton Pisani and Alan Mario Sant were confirmed as FIFA Referees, Alan Camilleri, William Debattista, Mitchell Scerri, Edward Spiteri and Ingmar Spiteri as FIFA Assistant Referees, Esther Azzopardi as FIFA Woman Referee, Franco Cachia as FIFA Futsal Referee, Stefan Pace and Jude Amin Utulu as FIFA Beach Soccer Referees.
MFA Director of Refereeing Adrian Casha said that twenty years ago, Malta was first awarded four referees and eight assistant referees on the FIFA Panel as the number of members was on the increase. In recent years, FIFA started to reduce the number of referees and assistant referees especially from smaller countries where the level of the game is not that high. This increase in Maltese officials on the FIFA Panel for 2015 has bigger significance as Malta regains four referees and eight assistant referees at the same time, FIFA was reducing the amount of referees from a number of countries.
Casha said that after last year’s disappointment, the Referees Department worked hard and the Maltese referees stood up to the occasion and performed well on the pitch in their international appointments. In the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, Maltese referees obtained the highest marks among all other European referees while during the UEFA Youth Tournaments, Maltese officials usually perform better than their colleagues.
The Referees Department invested in training, including the training camp for referees and assistant referees in the Czech Republic. Top officials from FIFA and UEFA were invited to witness the reform in the refereeing sector. UEFA Refereeing Officer Hugh Dallas was impressed and said that Malta was a shining example to other member associations within UEFA.
Thanks to initiatives like the Talent and Mentor Programme, a small group of promising referees and assistant referees are being given specialised training which should enable them to make it to the top while thanks to the Referees Academy, there was an increase of the number of referees by 44% from 90 to 130.
There were more referees’ exchanges with regards to international friendlies and top division matches abroad. The number of referees in the Elite Category were reduced to twelve so that they could control more top level matches.
The high level reached by FIFA Referees Clayton Pisani and Alan Mario Sant led them to important promotions to the First Category and Second Category respectively.
Clayton Pisani was promoted to the First Category and was only one of nine referees to be promoted out of a total of seventy-seven. He will now be eligible to control EURO 2016 qualifiers and UEFA Europa League group stage matches. He would be accompanied by another five Maltese officials, including two Additional Assistant Referees. The First Category is just one step below the Elite Category which includes just twenty-two referees.
Alan Mario Sant was only one of twelve referees to be promoted from the Third Category out of a total of one hundred and two.
Adrian Casha concluded that this was therefore a year which ends with three important achievements – the increase of referees on the FIFA Panel and the promotions obtained by Clayton Pisani and Alan Mario Sant. In the mean time, UEFA continued to avail itself of the services of Adrian Casha as referees’ coach, Philip Agius as assistant referees’ coach and Ronald Zammit as physical training coach.
1 AZZOPARDI Adrian (new)
2 BORG Marco
3 PISANI Clayton
4 SANT Alan Mario
1 CAMILLERI Alan
2 DEBATTISTA William
3 SCERRI Mitchell
4 SPITERI Edward
5 SPITERI Ingmar
6 SPITERI Jurgen (new)
7 SULTANA Duncan (new)
8 VELLA Roberto (new)
1 CACHIA Franco
Beach Soccer Referee
1 PACE Stefan
2 UTULU Jude Amin
1 AZZOPARDI Esther