Asian Cup 2019: Despite having 6 FIFA referees, no Indian can officiate in the competition
India have six FIFA (international) referees and eight FIFA assistant referees, but no one was named in the list of referees for the tournament. All of these six referees officiate matches in the ISL and I-League.
To understand why none of the referees was called up, one does not need to look beyond the Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League.
Week in and week out, referees have got decisions wrong, which have cost many teams their games.
Many coaches and players have expressed their shock at the state of refereeing in the country and Mohun Bagan has written to the All India Football Federation (AIFF) thrice, asking the association to improve the standard of refereeing in the country.
ALSO READ: Mohun Bagan undone by poor refereeing
To be fair, the AIFF or its Referees' Committee does not nominate a list of its available for any international tournament. It can refer them to the AFC.
But the federation has ignored calls from clubs, players, commentators and the Indian football fraternity for the last couple of years to increase the exposure and experiences of its referees.
ALSO READ: Shocking referee blunders from the ISL
Now, it has led to a situation where countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore, who are ranked below India in the FIFA rankings, have at least one referee officiating an Asian Cup match. No Indian could even make the stand-by list.
So how does the AFC choose referees for the Asian Cup?
According to an AFC document, the referees are chosen "based on their performance in FIFA and AFC competitions."
The chosen ones aren't straightaway allowed to officiate the matches of an important tournament like the Asian Cup.
The pool of referees oversee matches of smaller tournaments preceding the Asian Cup like the AFC U-23 Championship. Main instructors and referee assessors evaluate their performances in these matches and they are further debriefed or asked to improve.
In the case of the Asian Cup 2019, all the referees who officiated the AFC U-23 Championship in China make the final list. There are a few other additions as well since the Asian Cup is a 24-team affair.
None of the Indians was selected to officiate the AFC U-23 Championship and quite expectedly, they did not make the final list.
The AFC named 30 referees and 30 assistant referees for the competition belonging to 19 countries.
Here's the full list of referees and assistant referees for the Asian Cup:
Beath Christopher James (Australia), Ko Hyung Jin (South Korea), Green Peter Daniel (Australia), Turki Mohammed A Alkhudhayr (Saudi Arabia), Nawaf Abdulla Ghayyath Shukralla (Bahrain), Mohd Amirul Izwan Bin Yaacob (Malaysia), Fu Ming (China), Ahmed Abu Bakar Said Al Kaf (Oman), Ma Ning (China), Abdulrahman Ibrahim Y J Al-Jassim (Qatar), Liu Kwok Man (Hong Kong), Khamis Mohamed K A Al-Kuwari (Qatar), Faghani Alireza (Iran), Khamis Mohammed S A Al-Marri (Qatar), Ali Sabah Adday Al-Qaysi (Iraq), Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari Bin Jahari (Singapore), Mohanad Qasim Eesee Sarray (Iraq), Hettikankanamge Crishantha Dilan Perera (Sri Lanka), Adham Mohammad Tumah Makhadmeh (Jordan), Ammar Ali Abdulla Jumaa Aljneibi (UAE), Ahmed Faisal Mohammad Alali (Jordan), Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed (UAE), Iida Jumpei (Japan), Irmatov Ravshan (Uzbekistan), Kimura Hiroyuki (Japan), Kovalenko Valentin (Uzbekistan), Sato Ryuji (Japan), Tantashev Ilgiz (Uzbekistan), Kim Dong Jin (South Korea), Cesar Ramos (Mexico)
Anton Shchetinin (Australia), Matthew James Cream (Australia), Mohamad Mu Azi Bin Zainal Abidin (Malaysia), Mohamed Jaafar Mohamed Salman (Bahrain), Mohd Yusri Bin Muhamad (Malaysia), Yaser Khalil Ebrahim Abdulla Tulefat (Bahrain), Al-Amri Abu Bakar Salim Mahad (Oman), Cao Yi (China), Rashid Hamed Ali Al Ghaithi (Oman), Huo Weiming (China), Saoud Ahmed S A Almaqaleh (Qatar), Mohammad Reza Mansouri (Iran), Taleb Salem H A Al-Marri (Qatar), Sokhandan Reza (Iran), Ronnie Koh Min Kiat (Ronnie Gu Minjie) (Singapore), Ahmad Moannes Nadi Alroalle (Jordan), Deniye Gedara Palitha Parakkrama Hemathunga (Sri Lanka), Mohammad Mustafa Hassan Alkalaf (Jordan), Hasan Mohamed Hasan Abdulla Almahri (UAE), Mihara Jun (Japan), Mohamed Ahmed Yousef Abdulla Alhammadi (UAE), Yamauchi Hiroshi (Japan), Rasulov Abdukhamidullo (Uzbekistan), Sergei Grishchenko (Kyrgyz Republic), Saidov Jakhongir (Uzbekistan), Kim Youngha (South Korea), Miguel Hernandez (Mexico), Yoon Kwangyeol (South Korea), Alberto Morin (Mexico), Al-Abakry (Saudi Arabia)
Gamini Nivon Robesh (Sri Lanka), Hanna Hattab (Syria)
Stand-by assistant refereees:
Palliya Guruge Priyanga Namal (Sri Lanka), Hayder Abdulhasan Ali Ubaydee (Iraq)