An experienced Japanese referee will take control of this Sunday’s Brisbane Roar v Newcastle Jets Hyundai A-League match as part of a referee exchange program between Football Federation Australia (FFA) and the Japanese Football Association (JFA).
The program is designed to help referees from both countries gain valuable international experience as well as expose players in the Hyundai A-League and Japan to different styles of officiating.
Takuto Okabe will take the whistle on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium in the first of two Hyundai A-League matches that will be controlled by a Japanese referee with the exchange program also including the round 24 clash between Melbourne Heart and the Central Coast Mariners.
Okabe has refereed 124 J-League matches since he was elevated to the Class 1 category of referees in Japan in 2006 and will be assisted by Australian assistant referees Ashley Beecham and Brad Hobson and 4th official Alan Milliner.
“We have a referee’s strategic plan and one of the important aspects of that plan is to offer our referees meaningful international experience which will enable them to become better referees,” said FFA Director of Referees Ben Wilson.
“Part of that strategy is the exchange program with the JFA and we are excited about having Takuto Okabe referee the A-League match on Sunday ahead of the round 24 match when an equally experienced Japanese referee will take control of the Heart v Mariners game.
“A-League clubs have supported this exchange as it exposes our players and teams to Asian referees ahead of AFC Champions League matches and is part of a strategic plan to raise the standards of our officials.”
The exchange will see Milliner, Beecham, and fellow assistant referee Matthew Cheeseman officiate in the Japan v New Zealand international to be played in Japan on 5 March.