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Friday 7 June, 2019

FIFA Women’s World Cup – Keighley hungry for more history


It is four years since Kiwi referee Anna-Marie Keighley made a name for herself at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada and she wants to back up those feats in France this month.

The 36-year-old teacher from Palmerston North made history in 2015 when she became the first referee to officiate five games in one FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Her incredible time in Canada – including her being the women in the middle for the Round of 16 game between the hosts and Switzerland in Vancouver, and also the semi-final between England and Japan – made headlines around the world.

“The highlight so far was Canada in 2015 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. I was able to officiate in five games which was a huge honour. To do five games at a World Cup was a bit of a milestone for women’s refereeing,” she said.

“Being given the responsibility of refereeing a semi-final – it was amazing to get that opportunity. The experience that we had in the Round of 16 game where I was refereeing the home team Canada at their World Cup was amazing. There were 54, 000 fans cheering them on so it was unreal to be in the middle of that.  I am hoping to perform well and get some more opportunities to show what I am capable of.”

Keighley is one of 27 Referees from around the world, while fellow Kiwi Sarah Jones is on the list of 48 Assistant Referees taking part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

Ken Wallace, the Referee Development Manager for New Zealand Football, said it was an incredible performance in 2015 and since then Keighley has gone from strength to strength.

“It is unusual for a New Zealander to be recognised as world-class in football, given the large numbers participating and the deep strength of the code world-wide,” he said.

“In the case of Anna-Marie Keighley this has become normal since her performances at the 2015 Women’s World Cup where she refereed five games including the Japan-England semi-final. Her experiences since then in Asian, Oceania and FIFA competitions have shown that this was no flash in the pan.”

Wallace said, as a result of being part of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, the FIFA U-17 World Cup in India and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France last year, Keighley has shown continued development and levels of performance at high levels of the game.

“Together with her assistant referees – Sarah Jones (Hamilton) and Maria Salamasina from Samoa – she and they are looking to continue where she left off from Canada,” he said.

Wallace said Anna-Marie Keighley is the ideal role model for younger referees coming through the New Zealand Football pathway.

“She is diligent, takes notes after every game to assist her self-reflection, and is prepared to challenge those who assess her in her quest for excellence. She has sought additional coaching in her sprint technique to improve an area requiring development.”

Keighley is hoping to show once again what can be achieved from New Zealand as the FIFA Women’s World Cup is expected to be the biggest tournament yet with a global audience target of one billion people.

“The excitement just keep growing and growing. We are so close now and being able to be on the world stage is a huge honour. The Football Ferns have the fern on their chest every time they play. For us as referees we have to be neutral but it is embedded in us the pride of representing a small nation like New Zealand and a small confederation like Oceania Football,” she said.

“Being able to go there and match up against some of the best referees in the world is just awesome. I am lucky to be able to do that and I represent my country and confederation with huge pride.”

 Please find attached audio from an interview with NZ referee Anna-Marie Keighley.

 FIFA Women’s World Cup
Where: Nine cities across France
When: 7 June to 7 July


2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup draw – Football Ferns games (NZT)
New Zealand v Netherlands
12 June, 1am
Stade Oceane Le Havre


New Zealand v Canada
16 June, 7am
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble


New Zealand v Cameroon
21 June, 4am
Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier