The Japan Football Association on Tuesday announced it will introduce a new “Special Referee” system starting this coming season, and has said it has appointed Toru Kamikawa and Masayoshi Okada as the first “SR” refs, in the first step toward professionalizing its referees.

Kamikawa has been named by FIFA to officiate in this summer’s World Cup and Okada became Japan’s first World Cup referee in 1998.

The two “SR” refs, Kamikawa and Okada, will officiate J. League Division One matches and other domestic competitions and are required to attend lectures and clinics three days a week in addition to staying match fit.

According to the JFA, “SR” refs will be paid 200,000 yen for officiating a J1 match as well as a monthly basic payment of 400,000 yen. They could earn as close as 10 million yen a year if they officiate 25 matches per season.

The JFA is aiming to increase the number of “SRs” year by year and is hoping to see all Division One referees become SRs in the future.

As a part of its referee revolution, the JFA also appointed Leslie Mottram as its chief referee instructor on a three-year contract.

The 50-year-old Scotsman retired from refereeing in 2001 having officiated in 188 games in Japan since 1996.

New refs in J. League

The J. League has invited two foreign referees for the coming season, Leif Sundell of Sweden and Juan Antonio Marin of Spain, the J. League announced Tuesday. The two refs will work in the J. League from Feb. 28 to April 21.

Sundell, 43, has officiated in 93 international games including the 1991 FIFA U-17 World Championship and the 1996 European Championship, while Marin, 44, has worked in 50 international matches.

Prize money up

The J. League on Tuesday announced changes to prize money for its competitions.

The Division Two winner will now receive 20 million yen to the runnerup’s 10 million yen with effect from this season.

Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers in each stage of the Division One will get 30 million yen, 20 million yen and 10 million yen, respectively. The prize for the third-place finisher has been increased to 40 million yen from 30 million yen while the top-two finishers’ will receive the same as before — 100 million yen for the winner and 50 million yen for the runnerup.

The prize for the J. League Championship winner has been doubled to 20 million yen from the previous 10 million yen and the runnerup prize has been increased from 3 million yen to 10 million yen.

The J. League’s board of directors have approved the league’s 2002 fiscal year budget of 10.5 billion yen — 2.6 billion yen more than the 2001 fiscal year thanks to successful TV rights sales.

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