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Kari Seitz

U.S. Soccer Looks to Continue Success of U.S. Referees at Future Women’s World Cups

Kari Seitz, Marlene Duffy and Veronica Perez concluded their successful run at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany by officiating the Third Place match between Sweden and France. Seitz, the most experienced referee at the World Cup, refereed three matches throughout the tournament. Now back in the United States, the three will continue to officiate matches in Women’s Professional Soccer and the men’s professional leagues.

The 40-year-old Seitz is a veteran of the 1999, 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cups and two Olympic Games. Duffy and Perez, both assistant referees, experienced their first FIFA Women’s World Cup, and had both officiated matches at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

U.S. Soccer is looking to continue the strong tradition of producing quality female officials with new programs designed to develop international and professional female referees.

In January of 2011, U.S. Soccer hired Sandra Serafini as the Women’s Professional Referee Coordinator to oversee development of female officials in the United States. Among her many duties, she is responsible for assigning officials to WPS games and connecting with female FIFA referees. She also works with the Director of Professional Referees to assign female officials to semi-professional games, such as MLS Preseason, MLS Reserve, NASL and USL PRO.  

The goal is to develop women officials who are competent to officiate as referees and assistant referees at the professional level, regardless of the gender of the players,” said Serafini.

Serafini also assists in identifying prospective female officials to work in U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy matches. As a result of her efforts, the Academy has seen an increase in the use of female officials during the 2010-11 season, culminating with the selection of two female referees out of eight total for the 2011 Development Academy Finals Week held last July in Milwaukee, WI.

“These new initiatives have helped us with establishing the basic infrastructure that is crucial to female officials having a career,” said Serafini. “They establish a clear development path that fosters an incremental mastery of the skill sets needed to succeed at the professional level.”

In addition, four Ref-Coaches were assigned to work with officials as their mentors in Jen Bennett, Kim Oberle, Erich Simmons and Jim Fahy. All four have extensive experience in the field, with Bennett a retired FIFA Referee and Oberle as a retired FIFA Assistant Referee. Simmons worked in both the MLS and WUSA leagues, while Fahy is a retired National Referee. The Ref-Coaches provide insight and assistance to developing officials in hopes of guiding them into the elite levels of officiating.

Referees in WPS now utilize Match Analysis for video review of their matches. Using this software, the referees can learn from both their successes and mistakes on the field in order to further improve and hone their skills.

With all these additions implemented into the referee programs in the United States, U.S. Soccer looks to continue improving the development of their female referees in order to earn greater international and professional assignments.

Margaret Domka and Moo Hackett are already reaping the benefits, as the two were assigned to the CISM (Conseil International du Sport Militaire) World Military Games in Brazil. The CISM World Military Games is a multi-sport event that takes place every four years for the world’s armed forces of 133 member countries. The fifth edition of the event is being held from July 16-24 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Men’s and women’s soccer events at the tournaments are sanctioned by FIFA, with current and former National Team players contributing to the rosters of several countries. Domka is also assigned to the UNCAF Olympic Qualifying tournament in Honduras, host for one of the two groups of Under-20 qualifiers in the region.