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USSF Referees Head to the Caribbean for World Cup Qualifiers

RESOURCE CENTER - Thursday, February 5, 2004

As part of our continuing effort to service and educate our membership, each Thursday the U.S. Soccer Communications Center will send out an informative article from one of its departments. Once a week, you will receive an article/paper/essay in your inbox that will hopefully enhance your enjoyment and knowledge of the game of soccer - on and off the field.

This month, a update from the U.S. Soccer Referee Department details the early involvement of our referees, referee assistants and referee inspectors in the qualifying process for World Cup 2006.

U.S. Soccer Referees To Head for the Caribbean for World Cup Qualifiers

CHICAGO (Thursday, Feb. 5, 2004) – After officiating more than 200 matches in 2003, the U.S. Soccer Referee Department and the Federation’s referees on the FIFA international list will begin their involvement with FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 qualifiers over the next two months. In all, four referees, four referee assistants and three assessors will be involved in the first stage of CONCACAF qualifying.

“It is very important for our referees to be a part of these World Cup qualifiers as they represent the road to the highest competition in the world,” U.S. Soccer Director of Advanced and International Referee Development Esse Baharmast said. “It is every referee’s dream to be a part of the World Cup, and this is part of the journey to reach that goal.”

Kevin Stott will begin his 10th year as a FIFA referee, and he will lead a four-person U.S. crew during a Feb. 18 match between Haiti and Turks and Caicos Islands in the Orange Bowl in Miami. Coming off a year in which he worked the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the FIFA World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates, the California native will be the fourth official for the second leg of that series three days later.

Sixth-year FIFA referee Ricardo Valenzuela, a resident of Northern California, will serve as the fourth official for the first leg and will swap roles with Stott to referee the Turks and Caicos Islands vs. Haiti in Hialeah, Fla., on Feb. 21. The assistant referees with that crew for both games will be Craig Lowry and Steve Davidson. Lowry, a seventh-year FIFA referee from Pennsylvania, refereed the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup in 2003 and Davidson, a second-year FIFA referee from Illinois, will be working his first major international tournament.

In a later series, Brian Hall, the longest tenured U.S. referee on the FIFA list at 13 years, will lead a crew to Bermuda for a Feb. 29 fixture between Bermuda and Montserrat at the Bermuda National Sports Center in Prospect. Hall, who last year ran the middle at MLS Cup 2003, was the only American referee in Korea and Japan for the FIFA World Cup 2002. He refereed a total of four matches at the World Cup, including serving as the fourth official for the Brazil vs. Turkey semifinal. The three group matches he was involved in were Italy-Ecuador on June 3, England-Argentina on June 7 (as the fourth official) and England’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria on June 12.

Joining Hall in Bermuda will be assistant referees Chris Strickland and Gregory Barkey as well as fourth official Michael Kennedy. Strickland, who is entering his third year on the FIFA list, had a busy 2003 as he worked the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the FIFA World Youth Championship, including a quarterfinal match. Barkey, a New Jersey native, is the longest tenured referee assistant for the U.S. on the FIFA list. Kennedy has been on the FIFA international list since 1999.

In addition to those on the field, three U.S. Soccer representatives will serve as referee inspectors, including two members of the U.S. Soccer Referee Department. Baharmast and Manager of Referee Development and Education Alfred Kleinaitis will be joined by Vincent Mauro to each work at two first stage matches.

Baharmast and Kleinaitis are each coming off a busy 2003 in which they worked three FIFA events in three different countries. In the summer they worked at the eight-team FIFA Confederations Cup in France in July before heading to Finland and the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. In the fall, they worked Women’s World Cup USA 2003 to conclude a year in which they were a part of three of the four major FIFA competitions.

Kleinaitis will work the Antigua and Barbuda vs. Netherlands Antilles match on Feb. 18 and the Bahamas vs. Dominica on March 28. On March 19 and 21, Mauro will work both legs of the Domincan Republic vs. Anguilla series, with both games being played in Santo Domingo in the Domincan Republic. Baharmast has been assigned to Aruba vs. Surinam on Feb. 28 and St. Lucia vs. British Virgin Islands on March 28.

These assignments are handed down from FIFA Director of Competitions Jim Brown in Zurich, Switzerland.

U.S. Soccer Match Officials for CONCACAF First Stage Qualifying
Feb. 18-March 28

    * Feb. 18:  Haiti vs. Turks & Caicos Islands - Kevin Stott (Referee), Craig Lowry (Asst. Referee), Steve Davidson (Asst. Referee), Ricardo Valenzuela (Fourth Official)
    * Feb. 18: Antigua & Barbuda vs. Netherlands Antilles - Alfred Kleinaitis (Inspector)
    * Feb. 21: Turks & Caicos Islands vs. Haiti - Ricardo Valenzuela (Referee), Craig Lowry (Asst. Referee), Steve Davidson (Asst. Referee), Kevin Stott (Fourth Official)
    * Feb. 28: Aruba vs. Surinam - Esse Baharmast (Inspector)
    * Feb. 29: Bermuda vs. Montserrat - Brian Hall (Referee), Chris Strickland (Asst. Referee), Gregory Barkey (Asst. Referee), Michael Kennedy (Fourth Official)
    * March 19: Dominican Republic vs. Anguilla - Vincent Mauro (Inspector)
    * March 21: Anguilla vs. Dominican Republic - Vincent Mauro (Inspector)
    * March 28: Bahamas vs. Dominica - Alfred Kleinaitis (Inspector)
    * March 28: St. Lucia vs. British Virgin Islands - Esse Baharmast (Inspector)

For more information on the U.S. Soccer Referee Department or information on how to become a soccer referee, contact Carol McGuire at 312-528-1241 or or visit