The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) today announced a referee exchange with the Asian Football Confederation, which will begin when the AFC provides referees for next week’s Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League semifinal return leg in Mexico City, between Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC and Liga MX’s Club America.
Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov, the youngest referee ever to whistle a FIFA World Cup opening match and five-time AFC Referee of the Year, will lead the referee team assigned to the match. As part of the reciprocal referee exchange with the AFC, a yet-to-be-determined Concacaf referee trio will referee an Asian Football Confederation Champions League semifinal later this year.
The referee exchange comes about as part of cooperation delineated in Concacaf’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) signed last year, which enumerates ways in which the two Confederations can cooperate towards continued growth of the game across both regions. Both Concacaf and AFC have seen explosive growth in club and national team football in recent decades.
“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. “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.”
The AFC’s Irmatov will direct the Mexico City semifinal along with two countrymen, linesmen Jakhongir Saidov and Abdukhamidullo Rasulov. Irmatov has been a FIFA referee since 2003 and is a five-time AFC Referee of the Year (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014).
His career includes the honor of being the youngest referee to ever officiate the opening match of a FIFA World Cup when he took the field in South Africa 2010. Following South Africa and Brazil 2014, Irmatov will make his third consecutive World Cup appearance this summer in Russia. Entering his third FIFA World Cup, Irmatov already holds the record for most matches ever officiated in the World Cup competition: a total of 9.
The home-and-away semifinals of the 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League kick off tonight, Tuesday, April 3 (8 pm ET), with Toronto FC hosting Club America at BMO Field. Tomorrow night, Wednesday, April 4, the New York Red Bulls will be at Akron Stadium, in Guadalajara, Mexico, to face off against CD Guadalajara at 10 pm ET.
The decisive second-leg semifinals in Mexico City and New York will both take place on Tuesday, April 10. Beginning at 8 pm ET, New York Red Bulls will host CD Guadalajara at the Red Bull Arena, followed by Club America versus Toronto FC at 10 pm ET, at Estadio Azteca – the decisive match to be refereed by the Asian trio.
The tenth edition of the Concacaf’s continental club championship is the first to feature the newly introduced, action-packed, home-and-away knockout format, which after the first four weeks has resulted in a field reduced from the original 16 to just four champion clubs, each one step closer to the Confederation crown.
The range of dates the home-and-away final series are set for the last two weeks of April. The winner of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League will represent the region in the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
2018 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League Semifinals Referee Assignments
Tuesday, April 3, 2018
Toronto FC (CAN) vs. Club America (MEX)
Referee – Henry Bejarano (CRC)
Assistant Referees – Carlos Fernandez (CRC) and Ainsley Rochard (TRI)
Fourth Official – Ricardo Montero (CRC)
Wednesday, April 4 , 2018
CD Guadalajara (MEX) vs. New York Red Bulls (USA)
Referee – John Pitti (PAN)
Assistant Referees – Gabriel Victoria (PAN) and Christian Ramirez (HON)
Fourth Official – Kimbell Ward (SKN)
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Club America (MEX) vs. Toronto FC (CAN)
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (UZB)
Assistant Referees - Jakhongir Saidov (UZB) and Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (UZB)
Fourth Official – Ricardo Montero (CRC)
New York Red Bulls (USA) vs. CD Guadalajara (MEX)
Referee: Walter Lopez (GUA)
Assistant Referees – Juan Francisco Zumba (SLV) and Osvaldo Luna (CRC)
Fourth Official – Hector Rodriguez (HON)