One of the Asian Football Confederation’s top referees will oversee the Concacaf Champions League second-leg semifinal match between Club América and Toronto FC in Mexico City next week, Concacaf announced on Tuesday, as part of a new referee exchange between North America’s regional confederation and its Asian counterpart.
Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov, a five-time AFC Referee of the Year and the youngest ref ever to whistle a FIFA World Cup opening match (South Africa 2010), will lead the officiating team, which also includes assistant referees Jakhongir Saidov and Abdukhamidullo Rasulov, also from Uzbekistan. Conversely, a yet-to-be-determined Concacaf referee trio will referee an AFC Champions League semifinal later this year.
“The appointment of three-time FIFA World Cup Referee Ravshan Irmatov to our Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinal marks a historic moment for refereeing in Concacaf,” said Concacaf Director of Refereeing Brian Hall in a statement. “We are honored to have a referee, with his pedigree, lead our teams onto the field at Azteca Stadium. Mr. Irmatov’s appointment will also pave the way future exchanges that will help strengthen refereeing in both Confederations.”
A FIFA referee since 2003, Irmatov is a five-time AFC Referee of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014) who will make his third consecutive World Cup appearance this summer in Russia. He already holds the record for most World Cup matches ever officiated with a total of 9, including the US national team's 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.