The Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL) and the All India Football Federation (AIFF), which organizes the Indian Super League (ISL), have decided to invest more than Rs 10 crore in the coming three years for the development of referees in India.
The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), which is the internal body responsible for providing referees to the English Premier League, has decided to pair up and be strategic partners in the ‘Elite Referee Development Program’ project.
The representatives from PGMOL would share their expertise and guide to create a robust environment for the match officials in the country through ISL’s long-term partnership with the Premier League. The program would consist of launching a high-tech e-learning platform for referee education and the implementation of a digitized referee assessment process through the cloud and server-based video techniques.
At the end of its first cycle, the three-year program aims to create a panel of 50 elite referees, who would be handling full-time professional contracts. Exposure trips to the UK where the Indian referees would be shadowing match officials in the 2nd Division Championship and 3rd Division League One have been planned for the professional development.
Presently, the PGMOL supports the 26 AIFF-appointed referees in the ongoing 2021-22 ISL bio-bubble in Goa with three full-time referee coaches and an analyst.
A protocol for the pre-match greeting has been implemented to increase the interaction and build confidence in the relationship between the ISL coaching staff and match officials before every game.
“Refereeing is an integral element of football. The Elite Referee Development Program is a testament to FSDL and AIFF’s commitment to the holistic development of the sport in India. PGMOL is delighted to play its part in helping raise the standards of refereeing in Indian football,” said a source close to the developer who has over 25 years of officiating experience in the highest levels of international football.
“The program will enhance the professionalism at the elite level in Indian refereeing, decrease errors and increase the perception of the quality of Indian referees in coming years. The program will be based on procedures already adopted by the Premier League with a similar end goal in mind,” the source added.