FIFA have awarded a total of 17 Referee and Assistant Referee badges for 2008 to Irish referees. Five of the Assistant Referees receiving FIFA badges for 2008 are doing so for the first time.
Referees in receipt of a FIFA badge are entitled to officiate at FIFA and UEFA fixtures, both at club and international level.
Irish involvement in refereeing FIFA and UEFA fixtures has been on the increase over recent years, with Irish referees and assistant referees involved in the Champions League, UEFA Cup and Intertoto Cup, as well as international fixtures across all age levels.
FIFA have awarded Ireland six FIFA Referee badges and 11 FIFA Assistant Referee badges for 2008. Anthony Buttimer, Rhona Daly, Alan Kelly, Hilda McDermott, David McKeon and Ian Stokes have been awarded FIFA Referees badges for 2008.
Marc Douglas, Martin Moloney, Damien McGrath, Barry McDonnell, Ciaran Delaney and David Wogan, along with new nominees Aisling Looney, Celine McGowan, Paula Brady, Ken Hennessy and Allen Lynch, have been awarded FIFA Assistant Referee badges for 2008.
The nominations for these badges are for one year only and nominations for the following year will depend on performances along with the successful completion of physical tests and fulfilling their duties in a professional manner throughout the coming season.
Pat Kelly, head of the FAI's Referee Department, welcomed today’s announcement: 'The FAI have put a lot of focus on developing referees in Ireland, through the launch of the Referees Development Plan earlier this year and the work of the FAI Referee School of Excellence.
'Our referees are now involved in high-profile FIFA and UEFA matches throughout the year and the fact that we are being awarded increasing numbers of FIFA badges is clearly a sign that refereeing in Ireland is moving in the right direction.'