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06/02/2009

Professional assistant referees introduced

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The Japan Football Association have signed contracts with three match officials – one referee and two assistant referees – giving them professional status for the 2009 season.

The three are referee Ryuji Sato and assistant referees Toshiyuki Nagi and Toru Sagara. With their change in status, the JFA now have a total of 12 professional officials, who were known as Special Referees (SRs) until last year.
Meanwhile, former FIFA assistant referee Yoshikazu Hiroshima has decided to retire and become a JFA Top Referee Instructor in order to help develop assistant referees.
Hiroshima served as an assistant referee in the 2006 World Cup third-place playoff between Germany and Portugal and was named J. League Assistant Referee of the Year six times.
Yasuhiro Matsuzaki, the JFA’s Referee Committee chief, commented: “The responsibility and significance of the service of assistant referees is increasing. There aren’t many professional assistant referees in the world, but we are hoping to have more candidates who want to make it their profession.”