The Malta Football Referees Association was shocked by the news of the death of young assistant referee Joseph Cilia Aquilina. He was 25 years old.
“The refereeing community is shocked with the sad news that our colleague and friend Joseph Cilia has passed away,” the association said in a statement.
Cilia Aquilina started his career in 2014 and was promoted to the National Assistant Referees Category in 2016.
He made his senior competitive debut in the Malta FA Division 2 league match between Żejtun Corinthians FC and St. George’s FC on December 16, 2016.
Cilia Aquilina officiated his first match in the Gozo FA Division One league in an encounter between Oratory Youths and Xaghra United.
“Among his memorable experiences in refereeing included the Youth FA Under 15 Knock-Out Final between Birkirkara and Pieta Hotspurs on 6th May 2016 and the UEFA Under 16 Development Tournament played in Malta in February 2018,” the MFRA said.
“Joseph was so passionate about refereeing that whilst completing his studies in the UK, he found the time to officiate football matches in England with his first match being an encounter between Portsmouth FC Academy and Swindon Town FC Academy on 3rd October 2016.
“The MFRA Executive Committee and its members send its sincere condolences to his family and numerous friends.”
The Malta Football Association also paid a fitting tribute to the young official.
“The Malta Football Association is deeply saddened to learn the news that match official Joseph Cilia Aquilina has passed away,” the MFA said.
“Joseph was a football person through and through. He was a National Assistant Referee and also a passionate supporter of our national team.”
Cilia Aquilina was also an avid fan of the national team and formed part of the South End Core.
The South End Core expressed their shock and the untimely passing of Cilia Aquilina.
“A news that shocked us and we still cannot believe it,” the South End Core said.
“The group has just lose a quiet member, shy, a kind person and was alway present for the national team matches. Many times he came to give a helping hand before international matches while he also went abroad with us to follow the national team.”