FIFA referee Esther Azzopardi has decided to retire from refereeing with immediate effect, the Malta Football Association said.
Ms Azzopardi communicated her decision in a letter she sent Kevin Azzopardi, the Malta FA director of refereeing.
Mr Azzopardi said “Esther was a role model for all referees and her success inspired many to take up refereeing, especially young women."
Mr Azzopardi said Esther Azzopardi was willing to use her experience and knowledge for the benefit of local match officials and, to this end, she would be taking up new roles as referee observer and refereeing ambassador for female recruits within the association’s Refereeing Department.
Ms Azzopardi’s decision to bring the curtains down on her 20-year refereeing career comes only a few weeks after she was awarded il-Midalji għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika for making the country proud through her refereeing achievements.
The daughter of former FIFA assistant referee Ronnie Farrugia, Ms Azzopardi began her career in 1997 and, 10 years later, she obtained the FIFA badge, the first Maltese female referee to achieve this status.
Last year, Mrs Azzopardi was selected to control games from the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup, played in Jordan.
During her career, Mrs Azzopardi has officiated over 65 international games from the UEFA Women’s Champions League as well as Women’s Euro and World Cup qualifiers while, locally, she has taken charge of over 50 matches in the BOV Premier League.
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