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AFC appoints Russelle Zapanta as match commissioner

Northern Mariana Islands Football Association executive director Ruselle Zapanta is the first person from the CNMI named as one of Asian Football Confederation’s match commissioners.

The AFC appointed Zapanta as a match commissioner for the AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers for Group E in Buriram, Thailand and left last Saturday.

Zapanta was first named a match commissioner for the 2020/2021 AFC Match Commissioners panel after he completed and passed tests at the AFC Match Commissioner Seminar in July 2019.

He was appointed but could not initially go due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a team dropped out, but the schedule was eventually set for him to leave.

As a match commissioner, he is responsible for overseeing the technical organization of a match and compliance with the applicable regulations.

He said that being appointed a match commissioner to represent AFC and the CNMI is an honor but at the same time holds a lot of responsibility as “we are tasked to make sure the competition rolls out as smoothly as possible.”

“Also, this opportunity goes to show that despite our nations’ size and short soccer history, there are other ways our people can shine and represent the NMI on the Asian and/or global soccer scene outside of playing and coaching,” said Zapanta.

Zapanta is excited to watch the soccer matches in his group which has Thailand, Chinese Taipei, and Tajikistan, but “I look forward to learning from the experience and the networking with counterparts I meet so that I can bring it back to the NMI and continue to bring development to our programs. NMI soccer continues to grow so we at NMIFA need to keep up with the trend and do our best for our soccer community.”

The seminar, according to the NMIFA official, had both newcomers and experienced match commissioners, who needed to undergo reevaluation.

While Zapanta is in Thailand, the NMI U20 Women’s National Soccer Team is in Palestine and is competing in the AFC U20 Asian Cup Qualifiers from March 10 to March 12.

There are eight groups in the qualifiers and the top finisher in each group will advance to the 2024 AFC U20 Women’s Asian Cup to be hosted by Uzbekistan in March 2024.

The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football, beach football, and futsal in some countries/territories in Asia and Oceania. It has 47 member countries, most of which are located in Asia.

Published by Saipan Tribune - Mar 06 2023


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