Officials aim for China finals

Five European women referees and 15 assistants are in training for the FIFA Women's World Cup.

Five women referees and 15 assistant referees from Europe are starting their preparations in a bid to make the match officials' team for the FIFA Women's World Cup later this year.

Canary Islands sessions
The programme, devised by the FIFA Referees Committee chaired by FIFA and UEFA vice-president Ángel María Villar Llona, is taking place on Spain's Canary Islands, with an initial group of 15 referees and 29 assistant referees from around the world convening for preparations lasting around ten days. The sessions will feature practical training, theory tests on the laws of the game, physical check-ups and an English aptitude test.

European contenders
The European referees are Christine Beck (Germany), Claudine Brohet (Belgium), Dagmar Damkova (Czech Republic), Jenny Palmqvist (Sweden) and Nicole Petignat (Switzerland). The assistants are Susanne Borg (Sweden), Miriam Dräger (Germany), Veronique Geerts (Belgium), Corinne Lagrange (France), Elke Luethi (Switzerland), Irina Mirt (Romania), Inka Müller (Germany), Yolanda Parga Rodríguez (Spain), Hege Steinlund (Norway) and María Luisa Villa Gutiérrez (Spain).

Improving quality
The objective of this initiative is to ensure that the match officials are in the best possible condition, which will in turn help to improve the quality of their performances. A second group of approximately 50 candidates will take part in training sessions at the prestigious Algarve Cup women's football tournament in Portugal from 6-14 March.

Preparation and training
Once these two training camps have been completed, the FIFA Referees Committee will reduce the list of prospective match officials, who will then be invited to attend a final period of preparation and training in Zurich in the spring. The final list of match officials for the competition will consist of 12 referees, 24 assistant referees and three fourth officials. The 2007 Women's World Cup in China will take place in five cities - Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Wuhan - from 10-30 September.