SUFFOLK official Abi Byrne has taken a major step forward in her career.
Abi (pictured above) has been promoted from a FIFA Category 3 to Category 1 official, meaning she is just one step away from the Elite category which makes up officials for major tournaments.
It was three years ago that Abi, now aged 29, was accepted by FIFA. Since then she has refereed a variety of international fixtures in addition to high-profile domestic appointments, including being involved in three Women’s FA Cup Finals at Wembley.
Abi, who regularly referees in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League, said of her latest accolade: “It doesn't have any effect on my games domestically, but I will be able to referee more senior women’s games internationally.
“That will mean more games in the later rounds of the Women’s Champions League or Euro and World Cup Qualifiers, and less Youth mini-tournaments.
“Every FIFA referee’s ultimate goal is to officiate at major tournaments, such as the World Cup and the Euros.
“You need to be in the Elite Category to be considered, which is now one (difficult) promotion away on the FIFA ladder.
“Being 29, I like to think I have enough years in me to make this an achievable target. I will continue to work hard, develop, gain experience and, hopefully, one day I’ll make it to the Elite Category.”
Abi, who lives near Mildenhall, added: “I’m exceptionally proud of everything I’ve achieved in refereeing so far, but this is something new because it’s my first promotion internationally.
“I believe it's a major step forward in my career as a FIFA referee.”
Suffolk FA Workforce Development Manager Alan Dale said: “We were delighted to receive the news of Abi’s promotion to FIFA Category 1.
“This is a terrific achievement and on behalf of everyone connected with Suffolk FA, and we send Abi our congratulations and wish her continued success.”