U.S. Soccer Federation Hires Kari Seitz as Vice President of Refereeing

Most Accomplished American Referee with Nearly 40 Years of Combined On-Field and Leadership Experience Joins Federation After Serving as FIFA Head of Refereeing; Hire Part of U.S. Soccer’s Continued Emphasis on Growing the Number of Referees

CHICAGO (Feb. 8, 2024) – U.S. Soccer has announced that long-time American referee Kari Seitz has been named the Federation’s first Vice President of Refereeing.

An accomplished referee with nearly 40 years of experience, Seitz has represented the United States at the highest levels on-and-off the field, and joins U.S. Soccer from FIFA where she most recently served as the Head of Women’s Refereeing for the sport’s international governing body. She will begin her new role on April 1. 

Falling under the Federation’s strategic pillar to foster the best playing environments, Seitz’s hire signals U.S. Soccer’s continued emphasis on the importance of referees to the health of the game’s ecosystem in the United States.

In her new role, she will lead the Federation’s Referee Department in the accelerated initiative to grow the number of high-quality referees across all levels of the game. In doing so, she will oversee U.S. Soccer’s increased investment in several new programs to grow the referee pipeline, the partnerships with the existing referee community and member base to reduce barriers to participation, and the overall improvement of the referee experience, including expanding access to digital resources, addressing referee abuse, and promoting the value of referees to the game.

“Returning to the USA to lead the Federation’s Refereeing Department is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I want to thank U.S. Soccer for recognizing the importance of investing in refereeing, an often overlooked and underappreciated, yet integral part of the game,” said Seitz. “It is an incredible responsibility to lead the growth, development, and support of refereeing at all levels of the game, and I know with the support of the U.S. Soccer referee family our collective passion, experience, and knowledge can take refereeing in the USA to new heights.” 

“We are thrilled to welcome Kari Seitz as our new Vice President of Refereeing,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Soccer Growth Officer Shari Summers. “As one of the most experienced and respected referees globally, Kari brings unparalleled expertise and a commitment to excellence that will lead our referee program tothe next level.Given the critical needs of today’s refereeing landscape, Kari will immediately step in to lead the long-term strategy, with particular focus on growing the number of referees, developing talent, and keeping referees safe. With Kari at the helm, we are poised to shape the future of refereeing in the best way possible.”

Possessing 28 years of on-field experience as a U.S. Soccer referee, Seitz served as a FIFA referee from 1999-2013, and set a benchmark for American referees on the world stage by officiating in a U.S.-record eight FIFA tournaments – the 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011 Women’s World Cups, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games and 2002 U-19 Women’s World Championship. Notably, Seitz oversaw the Third-Place Match between Sweden and France at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, which stood for 12 years as the highest-level World Cup game officiated by an American until Tori Penso refereed the 2023 Women’s World Cup Final last summer.

Domestically, Seitz officiated in all of the USA’s first division professional leagues from 1998-2013, working matches in Major League Soccer, the Women’s United Soccer Association, Women’s Professional Soccer and National Women’s Soccer League. She also officiated three league championship matches – the 2009 and 2011 WPS Finals, and 2013 NWSL Final.

After retirement from the field, Seitz continued to give back to the referee community by becoming a referee instructor, serving in that role in a variety of domestic events as well as international competitions including three FIFA competitions and one Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifying event. In 2016, she joined FIFA where she served as the Head of Women’s Refereeing for the world governing body. To date, she is the only American to work in FIFA’s refereeing department. 

Along with overseeing the refereeing efforts for 15 world championship events in her time with FIFA, Seitz was responsible for leading the global development of women’s refereeing, including the four-year project to select, train, prepare the referees for the Women's World Cup, a process which ultimately transformed the opportunities for women referees globally. Additionally, she collaborated with leaders at FIFA’s six regional confederations and 211 member associations to support in the development of refereeing and led a team of Referee Technology experts to drive the implementation of referee technology tools at FIFA competitions and seminars.

A 2005 recipient of U.S. Soccer’s Presidents Award, Seitz is a member of the Cal-North Soccer Hall of Fame. She graduated from Michigan State University in 1992 with a BA in Advertising and held various professional roles in marketing and media prior to moving to FIFA in 2016.  

About the U.S. Soccer Federation

Founded in 1913, U.S. Soccer has been the official governing body of the sport in the United States for more than 100 years. As U.S. Soccer looks toward the future amid an unprecedented moment of opportunity, we’ve aligned our efforts around five strategic pillars: Grow the game by increasing youth and adult participation and accessibility to the sport; Foster the best playing environments through quality of referees and coaches, increase DEIB and participant safety; Develop winning teams through solidified pathways and success of professional leagues; Grow the soccer economy to fuel reinvestment by increasing membership, fandom and commercial success; and Create a world-class organization through revitalized structure and culture, best-in-class talent, progress in DEIB, and more. For more information, visit ussoccer.com/ourvision.