Football Sports Development Limited (FSDL), organizers of the Indian Super League, and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) are all set to invest more than Rs 10 crore in the next three years towards the development of referees in India.
The Professional Game Match Officials Board (PGMOL), the international body which provides referees to the English Premier League has come on board as strategic partners in the 'Elite Referee Development Program' project. Representatives from PGMOL will share their expertise and provide guidance with an aim to create a robust ecosystem for match officials in the country through ISL's long-term partnership with the Premier League.
"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 development 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.
The program will include the launch of a hi-tech e-learning platform for referee education and implementation of a digitized referee assessment process through a cloud and server-based videos techniques.
At the end of the first three-year cycle, the program aims to create a panel of 50 elite referees, who will be handed full-time professional contracts. Exposure trips to the UK where Indian referees shadow match officials in the championship (2nd Division) and League One (3rd Division) have also been planned for continued professional development.
Currently, the PGMOL is supporting the 26 AIFF-appointed referees in the ongoing 2021-22 ISL bio-bubble in Goa with 3 full-time referee coaches and an analyst.