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2002 FIFA International Panel of Referees

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

This week, we examine FIFA's International Panel of Referees and a select group of U.S. Soccer referees who are members of that panel.

2002 FIFA International Panel of Referees

One of the highest accomplishments a referee can strive for is to be selected as a member of FIFA's International Panel of Referees or Assistant Referees.  This panel is selected on an annual basis and is the basis for selecting the referees and assistant referees for the World Cup, youth World Championships and all other FIFA and Confederation tournaments and events.

Each National Association may nominate up to 10 referees for the male referee and assistant referee lists and up to four referees for the female referee and assistant referee lists.  The criteria for selection to the panels is set by FIFA, and is as follows:  All nominees must be at least 25 years old, and must be selected for the first time before reaching the age of 40. Referees and assistant referees are removed from the list after the age of 45. Each of the referees nominated must have worked at the highest division within their country for a minimum of two years, and only referees who have worked more games as an Assistant Referee may be nominated to the AR list.  Candidates must meet the FIFA set standards for the Cooper Test, which is a physical test consisting of a 12 minute run, a 50 meter dash followed by a 200 meter dash and then a repeat of the 50 meter and the 200 meter dashes, within 4 months of being nominated.

For U.S. Soccer, the Referee Committee accepts nominations from the state referee administrator and from members of the referee committee itself.  Those nominated are reviewed to ensure they meet all eligibility requirements and a recommended list of nominees is sent from the Referee Committee to the US Soccer Board of Directors.  The approved list of nominees is then sent on to FIFA, who makes a final decision.  Members nominated by U.S. Soccer are not automatically  approved by FIFA.

U.S. Soccer members of the International Panels make contributions to the sport not only on the field, but they extend to all levels of the referee program from professional leagues to entry-level referees.

U.S. Soccer’s FIFA Panel Members

U.S. Soccer members of the FIFA International Panels of Referees and Assistant Referees have been very busy off the field in 2002.  They have made presentations in two foreign countries (Spain and Canada) and at least 30 states, addressing groups ranging from local referee association meetings through entry-level referee and instructor courses, at youth and amateur games and tournaments, to an international meeting of referees at a tournament in Spain.  They have also assessed fellow referees at youth and amateur games, provided mentoring to newer referees, and given clinics in conjunction with professional and international games across the country.

Here is a brief listing of the contributions made by members of the International Panel. As you will see, all members of the panel are actively participating in programs and events that further the development of all referees across the country.

Kevin Stott: presenter at several advanced referee clinics, instructor at entry-level assessor course, instructor at Region 1 youth finals, fitness instructor for state youth referee camp.

Sandy Hunt: speaker at British Columbia Referees Association meeting, instructor at Region 4 youth finals, mentor at USASA Evergreen Cup, speaker at USSF Women Referees Symposium.

Rob Fereday: member of Maryland State Referee Committee, official, instructor, and mentor at numerous indoor, amateur and youth games and tournaments, regular fitness training with mentor group, observer at Youth National Finals.

Craig Lowry: guest speaker at MA state cup clinic, ODP referee instructor/mentor, mentor at amateur state cup, observer at USYS National Finals.

Rich Grady: speaker at local referee association, presenter at state youth association annual banquet, mini-clinic following MLS game, clinician for youth regionals.

Michael Kennedy: speaker at local referee association, lecturer at Iowa referee clinic, presenter at clinic preceding USA-Uruguay game.

Kari Seitz: speaker at local referee association, mentor at youth state cup, speaker at referee clinics before USA-Finland game and prior to WUSA game, manager and organizer for Spanish referee exchange program between California North and Spain.

Roger Itaya: assessor at youth games, presenter at AYSO clinic, instructor at referee clinic, instructor at youth referee academy.

George Gansner: speaker at local referee meeting, weekly fitness training with local referees and with local National Referee candidates, presenter at St. Louis Hall of Fame dinner, instructor at post-MLS game clinic.

George Vergara: speaker at Youth AGM, speaker at local referee clinic, mentor of youth referees, clinician/mentor at youth state cup.

Brian Hall: speaker at Youth AGM, member of Spanish Referee Exchange Committee in California North, speaker at youth symposium.

Ricardo Valenzuela: presenter at Youth AGM, mentor at Super Y League games, instructor/mentor at Region 2 youth finals, mentor at ODP tournament.

Nate Clement: instructor at entry-level referee clinic, speaker to coaches at local youth clubs, presenter at intermediate referee clinic

Ali Saheli: referee adviser to local youth league, presenter at advanced referee clinic, instructor/mentor at state youth cup, assessor at state youth tournament.

Scott Weyland: consultant to California North VP for Referee Development, lecturer at local referee association, mentor at amateur games and youth tournaments, coach U-12 youth team.

Kevin Terry: mentor at National ODP finals, mentor at Dallas Cup, mentor at Super Y League games.

Greg Barkey: clinician at state referee association meeting, mentor at youth tournament, speaker at clinic following MLS game, coach of U-14 boys' team.

Chris Strickland: referee recruiter in California North, board member of local referee association, speaker at clinic following WUSA game and another preceding an MLS game, founder of local mentor program.

Rachel Woo:  mentor at youth state cup, mentor at Region 1 Girls' ODP, mentor at Bay State Games, instructor at youth referee academy.

Sharon Wheeler: speaker at clinic before USA-Finland game.

Jon Wilson: regular mentor of youth referees, instructor at mini-clinic following MLS game, instructor at intermediate referee course.

U.S. Soccer thanks this group of hard-working individuals for their leadership both on and off the field.  Their assistance in working with the National Program for Referee Development both nationally and in their states to help develop referees for the future is invaluable.

For more information, please contact Carol McGuire, U.S. Soccer's Referee Programs Manager.  Carol can be reached at, or (312) 528-1241.