Kuala Lumpur: In a historic move, female referees, including the pioneering Yoshimi Yamashita from Japan, are set to officiate at the men's Asian Cup in Qatar next year, as confirmed by officials on Thursday.
Yamashita, who was previously selected for the 2022 men's World Cup in Qatar, will be joined by four other women referees for the prestigious regional championship scheduled for January-February.
This groundbreaking decision marks the debut of women match officials at Asia's most prestigious men's national team competition, as stated by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The tournament will also introduce the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system in its full capacity.
With 24 teams participating for the first time, the Asian Cup will be hosted by defending champions Qatar. Japan and South Korea, who reached the last 16 in the recent World Cup held in Qatar, are expected to be among the top contenders.
The AFC had previously announced its plans to launch an Asian women's Champions League next year, emphasizing its commitment to promoting women's involvement in football.