FIFA Referee Esther Azzopardi, FIFA Assistant Referee Jurgen Spiteri, Elite Assistant Referee David Castillo, Category 1 Referees Matthew De Gabriele and Etienne Mangion, later this week will officiate in the prestigious Lennart Johansson Academy Trophy 2015 Youth Tournament, played in Skytteholms IP, Solna.
Other talented participating referees will be from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Sweden.
Mentor and advisor for all the international referees will be Kyros Vassaras, FIFA instructor, UEFA observer and chairman of the Romanian Football Association for Referees; while referee director from Sweden will be Markus Lejonstad.
The tournament is reserved for boys’ teams born in 2001 and 2002, and girls’ teams born in 2001. The 28 participating teams this year are: in the boys’ categories AIK (Sweden), AS Roma (Italy), Atletico Madrid and FC Barcelona (Spain), Crystal Palace and Liverpool FC (England), Dynamo Moscow (Russia), FC Copenhagen (Denmark), FC Honka (Finland), FC Twente (Netherlands), Juventus FC (Italy), KRC Genk (Belgium), Panathinaikos FC and PAOK FC (Greece), Rapid Vienna (Austria), Stabaek Fotbol (Norway); in the girls’ category AIK (Sweden), FC Honka and ONS (Finland), Madrid CFF (Spain), Oslo Fotballkrets (Norway), Paris Saint-Germain (France), RCD Espanyol (Spain), Strikers FC-South Coast (USA).
Together with referees’ exchanges started four years ago by the Malta FA Referees’ Department, this is another in the chain of opportunities which are indeed proving to be a fruitful experience for our top match officials (including international ones to broaden their overseas experience, as in this case) and the young and upcoming ones which should serve them well in their future career, possibly earning them FIFA Badge recognition in the years to come.