NEW DELHI: The U-17 World Cup beginning here on October 6 will set a record of sorts as it will see for the first time a female assistant referee in a FIFA men's competition.
FIFA, the world governing body of football, said it's time for elite female support referees to be involved in a men's competition.
"FIFA has selected seven support referees, but with a twist: for the first-ever time, FIFA has selected female referees for a men's tournament. The results and improvements seen in the joint preparations have shown the time has come for elite female referees to officiate in men's competitions together with their male colleagues," the FIFA said.
"We think it's time for elite female referees to be involved in a FIFA men's competition. They worked together with male match officials last year and now we want to see them working together in a competition," said FIFA's Head of Refereeing Massimo Busacca.
Seven female assistant referees from across the world (one from each continent) have been chosen by FIFA along with 70 male referees to officiate the 52 matches in the FIFA U-17 World Cup to be played in six Indian cities from October 6-28.
Meanwhile, 16 AIFF match officials, comprising eight referees and eight assistant referees, have been given a lifetime opportunity to train with the 77 enlisted FIFA officials who will be in charge during the U-17 World Cup.
"It's a lifetime opportunity for the Indian match officials who are getting a massive chance to learn the nuances of officiating a match of the highest level", the AIFF Director Referees Goutam Kar said.
"It's the first of its kind of initiative by FIFA to include the host nation's officials to boost their skills while learning from ones who are adjudged to be the best in the business," Kar added.
The training programme started at the SAI Ground in Kolkata yesterday and it will continue till October 5.
Right from the classroom sessions, the AIFF referees are taking part in each of the video sessions, technical interactions and field training.