CHICAGO (Oct. 8, 2013) – U.S. Soccer referee Kari Seitz, the most decorated and experienced international referee in U.S. Soccer history, has announced her retirement. Seitz retires as the only referee, man or woman, in the history of FIFA competitions to officiate in four World Cup tournaments.
Over her 28-year career as a referee, including 14 at the highest levels, Seitz worked matches in four FIFA Women’s World Cups (1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011), the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in 2002 and three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012). In addition to international competitions, Seitz officiated matches in numerous domestic leagues, including Major League Soccer, the Women’s United Soccer Association, Women’s Professional Soccer and in the National Women’s Soccer League, which recently completed its inaugural season.
Seitz, 42, started as a youth referee at the age of 14 and worked her way up through the ranks to the professional and international levels.
Seitz’s farewell match will take place on Oct. 20 when she referees the U.S. Women’s National Team for one last time as it takes on Australia at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The match will be broadcast live on NBC at 12:30 p.m. CT.
Seitz has been in the middle for more than 200 professional matches, more than 1,000 college matches, and has refereed the U.S. WNT more than 50 times. She has also officiated 45 different women’s national teams in 20 countries.
She is the only referee to officiate in three different regional championships, working confederation tournaments in CONCACAF, Europe and Asia.
“Kari has played a key role in the growth of women’s soccer in the United States over the past 15 years, and her dedication to her craft has always been admirable,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “She will always be a role model for young referees and we want to thank her for her tremendous work on behalf of U.S. Soccer and the women’s game, both domestically and internationally.”
Seitz became a member of the FIFA International Panel of Referees in 1999 after beginning her professional officiating career in 1998 as an assistant and center referee in MLS. She was honored as the WUSA Referee of the Year in 2002 and received a President’s Award in 2005 from U.S. Soccer. That same year, she was selected as one of 38 women – one of only five from CONCACAF – to participate in FIFA’s first referee workshop for women at the 2005 Algarve Cup in Portugal.
“I’ve had opportunities that I never could have imagined as an official starting out at just 14 years of age,” said Seitz. “My life experiences as a referee have shaped me into the person I am today, from supporting youth matches, officiating amateur, professional matches in MLS, WUSA, WPS and recently NWSL. At the world stage with five World Cups and three Olympic games and countless other world class experiences, I can step aside with a tremendous sense of pride from helping advance the game in the United States. I look forward to working with young referees in the future so they can have similar experiences.”
Seitz also owns the distinction of having been selected to referee the women’s Bronze Medal match at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, where she was one of only two referees chosen to represent the United States, as well as the Third Place Match at the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany. She was also selected to officiate the opening women’s match between Great Britain and New Zealand at the 2012 London Olympics.
“She has represented the United States at more senior international tournaments than most officials dream of,” said Sandra Serafini, who serves as a National Instructor and Assessor for U.S. Soccer and as a Referee Coach with the Professional Referee Organization. “I know of no other official who has demonstrated the kind of internal motivation or drive that Kari has over such a long period of time and sustained such a high level of excellence on the field. She is a true class act. She will be missed on the field both domestically and internationally, and it’s been such a privilege to work with her. We are looking forward to having her continue in other roles to share her wealth of knowledge and experience for many years to come.”
While Seitz will hang up her whistle, the full-time advertising executive who is Managing Director of OMD, will not be leaving the game. She will now move into an instructors’ role to help educate and evaluate young referees across the USA.