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Four Australian referees gunning to officiate at 2023 Women’s World Cup

Football Australia have announced that four Australian match officials have been chosen as candidates to possibly officiate at the 2023 Women’s World Cup on home soil.

Australian female referees Kate Jacewicz, Casey Reibelt and assistant referees Sarah Ho and Joanna Charaktis will be required to fulfil a range of criteria over the next three years (in what FIFA is calling a ‘Road to AUS/NZL’ project), to be in with a chance to be selected on FIFA’s final panel of match officials for the 2023 tournament.

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson said it is a great opportunity for the four match officials to officiate at a World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“We are thrilled to learn of the selections of Kate, Casey, Joanna, and Sarah as part of FIFA’s ‘Road to AUS/NZL’ project,” he said.

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia/New Zealand 2023 will be a tournament of firsts, and while numerous match officials have represented Australia at FIFA Women’s World Cups in the past, Kate, Casey, Joanna, and Sarah have the opportunity to be the first to do so on home soil and in doing so lift the profile of Australian referees and match officials.

“Australians from many of areas of the game will be central to the delivery of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023, and just like the Westfield Matildas, we are committed to doing everything we can to support our match officials on their paths to 2023.

“In the XI Principles for the future of Australian football we highlight our commitment to anchoring the growth of Australian football in women’s football.  We are particularly focused on development pathways for our referees and match officials, and encouraging women and girls to take up opportunities to become referees and match officials. The involvement of Kate, Casey, Joanna, and Sarah in FIFA’s ‘Road to AUS/NZL’ project will provide the next generation of young match officials with champions to look up to.”

Jacewicz and Reibelt officiated at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, whilst Ho was involved in three previous Women’s World Cups in 2007, 2011 and 2015. If successful, Charaktis will referee at her first World Cup in 2023.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Sky Sports extends rights to NIFL

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will be the exclusive broadcaster of Football in the region once again.

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will once again be the exclusive broadcaster of top-flight football in the region for the next three years.

The Irish League has had a long-lasting partnership with Sky over the years and the agreement will see the relationship in place until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The new agreement will see four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and the BetMcLean League Cup final broadcast live across the UK & Ireland each season.

Northern Ireland Football Chief Executive, Gerard Lawlor:

“We sincerely thank Sky Sports for their continued backing of our game and we look forward to showcasing some of the best NI Football League matches together over the next three seasons,” he said.

“To continue to have the invaluable support of such a high-profile broadcaster shows how far our league has progressed in recent years as we bring our game to an increasing audience of loyal fans.

“The NI Football League brand is continuing to grow outside of the confines of Northern Ireland, and through Sky Sports, many football fans are now becoming more familiar with the rich history of our clubs and as well as some of the household names that have played in the Irish League.”

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes:

“As a long-term partner to the Northern Ireland Football League, we’re delighted to extend Sky Sports’ support of the league and ensure that its entertaining action continues to be available to our customers,” he said.

“Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy the Northern Ireland Football league alongside our ever-expanding football offering in the UK & Ireland which includes over 500 live games in 2022, from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, and this month’s Africa Cup of Nations – placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Valencia CF presents revised stadium upgrade plans

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia’s stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla, was originally under construction in 2009. However, over the last 12 years, due to financial issues and negotiation breakdowns, construction has never been completed and the situation has become known as one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó, with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction license given in 2012.

The plans presented to the council include a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Valencia Mayor, Joan Ribo:

“Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element,” he said.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.

“They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

In December, Valencia revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s strategic venture, with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is reportedly set to receive approximately $189 million AUD from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture. $125 million of which is set to head to the stadium project.

Valencia CF President, Anil Murthy:

“The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council,” he said.

“We have agreed on recommencing work as soon as possible, after presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

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