Three U.S. Soccer Referees Return from France 2019, While Two Set for Senior World Cup Debut;
All 88 On-Field Officials Will Be Women
CHICAGO (Jan. 10, 2023) - U.S. Soccer and FIFA Referees Katja Koroleva and Tori Penso, Assistant Referees Felisha Mariscal, Brooke Mayo and Kathryn Nesbitt plus Video Match Official Armando Villarreal have been selected as match officials for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia & New Zealand.
All 88 on-field officials are women, while six female Video Match Officials have been selected for the first time at a World Cup. FIFA announced 107 match officials from all six confederations for the competition, which kicks off in Auckland, New Zealand on July 20.
The selected officials are six of 37 U.S. Soccer referees that are part of the 2023 FIFA Panel, the world’s highest level of officiating. Selection grants the 37 officials the opportunity to referee at the highest levels of international soccer.
Nesbitt and Villarreal are fresh off of representing the USA at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, where Nesbitt was one of six females appointed to officiate the men’s World Cup for the first time. Koroleva, Mariscal and Nesbitt all return to the Women’s World Cup stage after officiating at the 2019 tournament in France. Mayo and Penso will make their senior World Cup debuts in Australia & New Zealand.
After working as a referee across the American soccer pyramid in 2022, Koroleva will officiate her second senior World Cup. A member of the FIFA Panel since 2014, she’s also refereed the 2022 and 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cups. Last year, Koroleva served as a referee at the Concacaf W Championship as well as the 2022 Concacaf Men’s and Women’s U-20 Championships.
Mariscal will also officiate at a senior World Cup for the second time in Australia & New Zealand. She was a Video Match Official for last fall’s 2022 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, the first edition of the tournament to feature VAR. As a member of the FIFA Panel since 2014, she refereed at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship, both of last year’s Concacaf Men’s and Women’s U-20 Championships as well as Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championships in 2016 and 2020.
Mayo’s senior World Cup debut will come this summer after earning a spot on the FIFA Panel in 2018. The Tennessee native worked her first world championship event last summer at the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. In 2022, she ran the sideline at the Concacaf W Championship and the Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship after also officiating the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.
One of the United States’ most accomplished referees, Nesbitt was a part of the historic Costa Rica-Germany match at Qatar 2022 that featured an all-women crew for the first time in World Cup history. She was also the first woman to referee a championship game in North American professional sports when she ran the touchlineat the 2020 MLS Cup. Nesbitt won MLS Assistant Referee of the Year in 2020 and also officiated at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. At the continental level, she served as an assistant referee at the 2022 Concacaf W Championship and the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
Penso earned appointment to the FIFA Panel in 2021 and made her world championship debut last summer at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. She refereed last year’s Concacaf W Championship and Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship, her first major international events. Penso also served as referee for the 2021 NWSL Championship.
Referees from Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua and Suriname will also represent Concacaf at the World Cup. FIFA selects its best match officials from around the world for FIFA competitions.
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