Accomplished official Casey Reibelt is poised to make history as the first Australian woman to referee in the AFC Champions League, capping off a whirlwind year for the Queensland decision-maker.
Marking a significant stride towards greater diversity and representation within international football officiating, Reibelt will be the on-field official for the Group Stage match between Bangkok United FC (Thailand) and Lion City Sailors FC (Singapore) on 29 November in Bangkok. Victorian Joanna Charaktis will also officiate alongside Reibelt as an Assistant Referee.
The journey to this pivotal moment has been nothing short of a whirlwind. Reflecting on the past year, Reibelt attributes her preparation for the AFC Champions League to her involvement in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™, Isuzu UTE A-League Men and the Liberty A-League Women competitions.
While greatly honoured to be awarded the opportunity, the appointment wasn’t a shock, but a reward for the countless hours of preparation and dedication she has put towards her craft.
"I’m extremely excited and immensely proud to be given this opportunity, it’s something that I’ve been striving towards,” Reibelt said.
"Sarah Ho was the first female to officiate an AFC Champions League match and to follow in her steps is something special.
“I hope this opens the door for more female match officials to be given roles in big men’s tournaments.”
It’s not the first time Reibelt has been at the forefront of female officiating in Australia. As just the second woman to oversee an Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s match, the 35-year-old has been leaving her mark on the Liberty A-League Women’s competition since 2008.
Reibelt has also presided over matches during the 2019 and 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cups and continues to be a driving force in the evolving landscape of women's football officiating, showcasing the accomplishments of individuals shaping the future of the sport.
The title of being the first Australian woman to referee an AFC Champions League match isn’t lost on Reibelt, hoping this will pave the way for a new generation of female football officials.
"It’s (Inspiring the next generation) in the back of my mind but I try not to think about it much."
“I sometimes get nervous on the big stage, but having a strong support group around me is crucial. I’m fortunate to have lots of support from family, friends, and Football Australia.”
Football Australia's Head of Referees Nathan Magill, echoed the sentiment of pride and excitement and emphasised the importance of Reibelt’s appointment.
"It's a significant appointment, not only for Asian football but also for Australian football.
“We've committed to investing our time, energy, and resources into the women's program to give our female match officials the best opportunity to perform globally.
“It shows a really clear pathway to all the women and girls refereeing across all of Australia, whether it being grassroots, in our semi-professional leagues, or coming through the A-League Women’s program.
“There is a clear pathway from the bottom all the way through to the pinnacle competitions in Asia and the world through their recent appointment at the FIFA Women's World Cup,” concluded Magill.
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