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Around the world referees are forever criticised by fans, players, managers and the media but an Uzbekistan official has managed to buck the trend, receiving an unusually warm welcome after being named Asian Football Confederation (AFC) referee of the year.
Fans at Tashkent airport blew horns and trumpets to celebrate the return of Ravshan Irmatov, a candidate to referee at next year’s World Cup, after he won the award for a second successive year.
“I am overwhelmed by this reception. I am thankful to all those who came to greet me,” Irmatov said. “I have seen this kind of reception only for the players and this is unprecedented in Uzbekistan. I hope I will fulfill their expectations.”
In bizarre scenes, fans were jostling through crowds to try to shake hands with Irmatov, who was returning from Kuala Lumpur where he collected his award on Tuesday.
from Raw Japan:
Perhaps he had celebrated too much on the flight back from Tashkent, but less than 24 hours later Japan coach Takeshi Okada was talking about reaching the World Cup semi-finals in South Africa. It is hard to imagine Spain's Vicente del Bosque or England's Fabio Capello losing much sleep.