Two New Zealand referees have made the list of 107 match officials to officiate at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Anna-Marie Keighley is the sole New Zealander included in the 33-strong list of referees and support referees.
Main photo: Anna-Marie Keighly (right) … will be in the middle at the women’s World Cup. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Sarah Jones has been included in the list of 55 assistant referees.
Keighley has been New Zealand’s top-rated women’s referee since the Taranaki-raised school teacher made history by becoming the first referee to officiate in five matches at a World Cup, including a semi-final, in 2015.
This year’s tournament will be the third FIFA Women’s World Cup for Auckland-based Keighley, after Canada in 2015 and France in 2019. Keighley has officiated at seven global FIFA tournaments, as well as at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Waikato-based Jones has also been a regular at international tournaments, including the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the 2016 Olympic Games, the 2018 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Uruguay, and at last year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.
‘Quality first’ the key criteria in selection
Announcing the names of referees, assistants and 19 video match officials (VMOs), FIFA said:
“They have been chosen in close cooperation with the six confederations, based on the officials’ quality and the performances delivered at FIFA tournaments as well as at other international and domestic competitions in recent years.
“For the first time in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, six female VMOs have also been selected.”
The chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, Pierluigi Collina, said: “As always, the criteria we have used is ‘quality first’ and the selected on-field match officials represent the highest level of refereeing worldwide.
“We all remember the very successful FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France. The high standard of refereeing contributed significantly to that success.
“The aim for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 is to repeat that success and to convince again with excellent referees’ performances.”\
“As we did for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, we are announcing these selections well in advance to be able to work in a purposeful and focused manner with all those who have been appointed for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, monitoring them over the coming months.
“From the selected referees, we expect a rigorous and focused preparation for the Women’s World Cup, a competition that FIFA and its president hold in the highest of regards.”
Kari Seitz, FIFA’s Head of Women Refereeing, stressed that the match officials will continue to receive all necessary support from FIFA, as their preparation is paramount.
“With critical time lost due to the pandemic in preparation for the Women’s World Cup, we developed some new programmes to accelerate our referee development, such as our very effective Tracking & Support programme, where each referee candidate was assigned a FIFA coach who provided feedback on their matches each month.
“This programme will continue to be critical in the final phase of preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.”
The FIFA’s women’s refereeing programme has provided opportunities to participate in demanding competitions to showcase their skills and use matches to prepare mentally, physically and technically.
In addition to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India, the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, and the Algarve Cup, FIFA also created a new partnership with the Maurice Revello Tournament, a U-20 men’s national-team competition to further the candidates’ preparation.
The VAR system was implemented at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. Four years later, a team of 19 video match officials (VMOs) will operate in Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand, including, for the first time ever, six female VMOs.
“The development of female VARs has been vital for FIFA as part of the Road to Australia & New Zealand project, and we are pleased to have achieved this result,” Collina said.
“With only a few women’s competitions using VARs, the role of FIFA has been to provide international game experience to women in the U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups as well as to encourage member associations using VARs to certify their women referees in this role and appoint them for matches as often as possible.
“While significant progress has been made, more work is still necessary.