Yamashita Returns to Qatar for Historic Role in Men’s Asian Cup

In a ground-breaking move, referee Yoshimi Yamashita is set to create more soccer history in Qatar at the upcoming men’s Asian Cup in January. This follows her participation in the country last year during the men’s World Cup. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced its selection of five female match officials, including two referees, for this prestigious event, which is scheduled to run from January 12 to February 10.

This milestone marks the first time that the AFC has appointed female match officials for its marquee men’s tournament. Alongside Yamashita, Katherine Jacewicz from Australia was also named as one of the referees. Assisting them will be a talented team of officials comprising Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi from Japan, and Kim Kyoung Min from South Korea.

The 24-team Asian Cup will unfold on the same grounds as the men’s World Cup, utilising most of the stadiums where Yamashita served as the fourth official for six group stage games. Her return to Qatar signals a significant progression in the inclusion of female referees in high-profile men’s soccer tournaments.

Yamashita had previously been selected by FIFA as one of three female referees for the men’s World Cup. Notably, Stephanie Frappert of France made history during the group stage by officiating the Germany-Costa Rica match. Yamashita continued to shatter glass ceilings in April when she led the first all-female team of match officials during a game in the J-League, Japan’s top-tier league.

In another noteworthy development, the AFC announced that the video review system will be implemented throughout the entire Asian Cup tournament for the first time. In the 2019 edition, video review had only been introduced at the quarterfinal stage. This enhancement underscores the commitment to leveraging technology for the fair and accurate adjudication of matches in one of Asia’s premier soccer events

The tournament, originally scheduled to be played in June and July this year, will run from Jan. 12 to Feb. 10 and is being held in Qatar after original hosts China stood down due to the country’s COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.


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