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Trailblazers: Nine PRO officials have been assigned to a World Cup final in a nine-month period

For PRO, the end of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday represented more than simply the crowning of a new world champion in Spain. It marked the conclusion of an unheralded nine-month period that has seen PRO officials achieve ground-breaking milestones on the international stage.

Prior to the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, no PRO official had been selected for a senior World Cup final; now nine have. First up in December, Ismail Elfath was appointed as the fourth official for the final between Argentina and France in Qatar. He was joined by Kathryn Nesbitt (reserve assistant referee), Kyle Atkins (offside VAR), and Corey Parker (standby AVAR) in a historic moment for refereeing in the US.

On Sunday, the list expanded with the addition of five more new names. Tori Penso was named as the referee for the final between Spain and England, and in doing so, became the first American to referee a senior World Cup final. She was supported by assistant referees Brooke Mayo and Nesbitt, who became the first person to officiate in both a men’s and women’s World Cup final. Armando Villarreal was support VAR, just as he had been for the playoff for third place in Qatar.

Further to that, Canadians Carol Anne Chenard (standby VAR) and Drew Fischer (standby AVAR) were also assigned to the women’s World Cup final, taking the total to nine PRO officials who have been selected to oversee a senior World Cup final – all in the last tournament cycle.

PRO’s prominence in Australia and New Zealand was also enhanced by Katja Koroleva, Felisha Mariscal, and Chantal Boudreau, all of whom were involved as far as the quarterfinal stage. Representing eight percent of the roster of officials named to the tournament, PRO’s nine referees collectively received 66 individual assignments (14 percent of those available).

Tori Penso
Tori Penso was the first American to referee a senior World Cup final.

Including the strong performances in Qatar, PRO officials were involved in 43 percent of the 128 combined games in the recent men’s and women’s World Cups. That involved a presence in a phenomenal 19 of the 32 knockout games, including all four semifinals and both finals.

These significant achievements occurred nine years after Mark Geiger – now PRO’s General Manager – became the first American to referee a World Cup knockout game.

Geiger said: “We could not be happier for the nine officials who have represented PRO at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. They have shown that officiating in North America and in the leagues that PRO services is among the best in the world.

“I have been fortunate to have worked on the field with many of these officials and have seen first-hand their dedication and commitment to the game and to their craft. Managing them as the Director of Senior Match Officials and now as the current GM has been a special experience as they exemplify all that PRO stands for, officiating each match with humility and integrity. They have been and will continue to be role models in the officiating community, showing what it means to be a referee both on and off the field.

“Just like the six officials in the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup, each of these officials has shattered barriers and will continue to push the limits of what is possible as a referee in North America. Congratulations to Tori, Katja, Brooke, Katy, Felisha, Chantal, Armando, Carol Anne, and Drew for all you have achieved in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. You have made all of us at PRO extremely proud of you and excited to be a part of this organization.”

Each of these officials has shattered barriers and will continue to push the limits of what is possible as a referee in North America.

Mark Geiger

Joe Fletcher, PRO Chief Refereeing Officer, said: “If you look at the past decade, even more so the last men’s and women’s World Cup cycles, PRO has some of the top match officials in all positions on the planet.

“So often the focus is on the referee, but we have strong leaders delivering world-class performances as assistant referees and video assistant referees, and their contributions and the exceptional standards to which they hold themselves are often overlooked. We are proud to see our officials continue to raise the bar and create history.

“FIFA has promoted the officials as ‘Team One,’ and I can proudly state that it’s not about the ‘One,’ it’s about the ‘Team.’ Congratulations to the match officials who are the stars of our organization and to all the staff who support them and assist them in reaching these amazing heights.”


Brief biographies for nine PRO officials who worked the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, reflecting their accomplishments at senior World Cups:

Chantal Boudreau
Second women’s World Cup, having been to France in 2019. Joined FIFA panel in 2015 as an assistant referee.

Carol Anne Chenard
Third women’s World Cup, having been to Germany in 2011 and homeland of Canada in 2015 as referee. Served FIFA panel as referee between 2005 and 2020 and rejoined FIFA panel in 2022 as a video match official.

Drew Fischer
Second women’s World Cup, having been to France in 2019 as a video assistant referee. Joined FIFA panel in 2015 as a referee and 2021 as a video match official. Was VAR and AVAR at 2022 men’s World Cup.

Katja Koroleva
Second women’s World Cup, having been to France in 2019. Joined FIFA panel in 2014 as a referee.

Felisha Mariscal
Second women’s World Cup, having been to France in 2019. Joined FIFA panel in 2014 as a referee and 2022 as a video match official.

Brooke Mayo
First women’s World Cup, having joined FIFA panel in 2018 as an assistant referee.

Kathryn Nesbitt
Second women’s World Cup, having been to France in 2019. Joined FIFA panel in 2016 as an assistant referee and 2022 as a video match official. First woman to work a knockout match in men’s World Cup, in Qatar. Was reserve assistant referee at 2022 men’s World Cup Final.

Tori Penso
First women’s World Cup, having joined FIFA panel in 2021 as a referee.

Armando Villarreal
First women’s World Cup, having been to Qatar in 2022. Joined FIFA panel in 2015 as a referee and 2021 as a video match official. Was support VAR for 2022 men’s World Cup Playoff for third place.


Read more: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup assignments // 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup assignments




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