American Soccer Referee Contends to be Selected as an Official for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France
An American soccer referee hoping to be picked for next year’s Women’s World Cup has told how she gets goosebumps whenever the FIFA anthem is played before kick-off. She is the only American referee competing to officiate at next years Women’s World Cup in France.
Ekaterina Koroleva, 30, said that being selected to officiate at France 2019 would be her dream job after she turned to refereeing once her playing days were over.
She is currently attending a week of seminars in Qatar for FIFA to whittle down 35 of the world’s top referees to the 22 who will be picked to go to France next year.
“To be on the pitch in an exciting sport with the best players in the world has always been my dream,” said Ekaterina who supplements her income with part-time work as a physician assistant at the Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington, Washington.
“I played for ten years and when I reached my peak the obvious way to continue being a part of it was to be a referee and advance to the top level.”
The Women’s World Cup is the best sporting event of its kind. Football is the most popular sport in the world and in the women’s game this is the greatest athletic event.
Koroleva has been taking part in a raft of tests in Qatar so FIFA can assess her performance. These include high-intensity endurance and agility tests to mimic running around a soccer pitch and keeping up with play. There are also video tests on various topics such as judging the severity of challenges, technical fouls, and handball decisions.
Talking about how high pressure the sport has become, especially in the big tournaments, Ekaterina said, “The hardest part is making the correct decisions on the game’s most significant situations that can affect the outcome of the match, so we’re talking about penalties and red cards.”
“To prepare for this we replicate game-like situations with real players and instructors who come up with scenarios that we have to react to as if it was a real match,” said Koroleva.
The thirty-five referees who traveled to Qatar represent fifty-six countries from the world’s six FIFA confederations.
Koroleva is the only American referee among five members of the CONCACAF confederation which covers North America, Central America, and the Caribbean.
She has previously referred at the Junior World Cup in Jordan in 2016, and The Algarve, a women’s football tournament in Portugal.
Once Qatar is over the contenders will continue to be assessed when refereeing at the remaining qualifying matches for France 2019.
Koroleva explained how she particularly looks forward to the moments before kick-off at these games. “Hearing the FIFA anthem during the walkout has always given me the goosebumps and reminds me of why I’ve done all the hard work. It’s a good moment to reflect and enjoy before the match,” said Koroleva.
Hani Ballan, Vice Chairman of FIFA and Chairman of the Qatar Football Association Referees Committee told the contestants in Doha, “During the 90 minutes on the field, you will have to give it your best which is why we do not hesitate to provide you with the best preparation.”
You need to develop your knowledge of every new and innovative approach in the field of football and think in an innovative way.
“Einstein says insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,” said Ballan. “You are here because your approach is different and your way of thinking is different, so be proud of yourselves.”
Koroleva was born in Russia before moving to the USA when her mother, a geneticist, was offered a research post at a university in Iowa.