Five officials from OFC have made the FIFA shortlist to referee on home soil for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

New Zealand Football’s 2020 Women’s Referee of the Year Anna-Marie Keighley and 2020 Women’s Assistant Referee of the Year Sarah Jones have been named on the 56 and 100-strong shortlists, from an initial pool of more than 750 referees and assistant referees.

They are joined on the shortlist by OFC compatriots Maria Salamasina (Samoa), Natalia Lumukana (Solomon Islands) and Stephanie Minan (Papua New Guinea), all assistant referees.

Making this shortlist represents the beginning of a three-year process to being named on the final officials list for the 2023 tournament, during which shortlisted candidates are required to fulfil a range of FIFA criteria.

New Zealand Football CEO Andrew Pragnell welcomed the news, saying it highlighted the pathways and possibilities that exist for officials from New Zealand.

“We’re delighted to learn that Anna-Marie Keighley and Sarah Jones have made the shortlist for 2023. Anna-Marie and Sarah have been at the forefront of New Zealand refereeing in recent years, and their achievement in reaching this stage of the selection process is a testament to their dedication and commitment. They are fantastic role models for future up and coming officials in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Pragnell said.

“One of New Zealand Football’s strategic priorities is inspiring performances on the international stage, with one of the key goals being having a clear talent pathway for officials. Seeing Anna-Marie and Sarah put forward for the honour of officiating at a home World Cup demonstrates the possibilities that are out there for our officials.”

Sarah Jones, right, during a women’s national league game in New Zealand. Photo Credit: Phototek

Both Keighley and Jones have significant experience on the global stage.

For Keighley, having held the whistle at the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cups, this nomination represents a shot at completing a FIFA Women’s World Cup refereeing hat-trick on home soil.

Her time at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015 was record-breaking as she became the first referee to officiate five games at a single FIFA Women’s World Cup, a run which included a semi-final.

She backed up this by taking the helm of games at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, and her CV also includes officiating at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 and making history at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 as part of the first group of female officials at an all-male tournament. She first refereed an international match in 2010.

Sarah Jones was the first Kiwi woman to be named as an assistant referee in the A-League in 2016.

She made her World Cup debut at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, and her credentials also include officiating at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Algarve Cup and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018.

Courtesy of New Zealand Football