Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

OFC officials have been appointed to their first match at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, taking charge of Argentina v South Africa on Friday July 28.

Referee Anna-Marie Keighley of New Zealand will be joined by fellow Kiwi Sarah Jones and Samoa’s Maria Salamasina as assistant referees to represent the Oceania region for the match at Dunedin Stadium in New Zealand.

For Auckland-based Keighley, this will be her third FIFA Women’s World Cup, having previously officiated in Canada 2015 and France 2019. In the 2015 tournament, she became the first referee to lead five matches at one World Cup, including taking charge of the semi-final between Japan and England in Edmonton.

Sarah Jones also has prior World Cup experience, having been chosen for France 2019, as well as further international experience having officiated at the 2016 Olympic Games and 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

Samoan Maria Salamasina has been a long-standing member of the OFC officiating team and is making her second World Cup appearance, having been selected for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. She also joined Keighley and Jones as part of OFC’s officiating team at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

OFC Head of Referees Kevin Stoltenkamp is excited about the growth of talent in women officiating across the Oceania region.

“Everybody has been talking about the impact of the World Cup on girls and women playing football but there’s also a big impact for match officials in the Pacific. With the success of the OFC Women’s Champions League in Papua New Guinea and the OFC U-19 Women’s Championship in Fiji this year, we’re starting to see the talent not just on the field but also with our women officials across the region. We hope seeing these officials on the world stage will encourage others to get involved across Oceania,” he said.

“It’s also just reward for Anna-Marie, Sarah and Maria, for the hard work and commitment they’ve shown over the last eight years, to ensure that they are on par with their fellow officials from confederations across the world.”

With both Argentina and South Africa having lost their opening Group G matches to Italy and Sweden respectively, Friday’s match will be vital for both side’s hopes of advancing to the Round of 16.