U.S. Soccer referees Jennifer Bennett and Kari Seitz have been named to the final list of referees for the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China. The announcement was made on June 22 by FIFA Vice President Angel Maria Villar Llona, the chair of the FIFA Referees Committee.
Overall, FIFA named 12 referees and 23 assistant referees from across the globe, with an additional six referees assigned as reserves. The U.S. is the only country to be represented by two referees.
"I'm extremely excited. I'm honored and fortunate to have the opportunity to pursue a dream of mine and to participate in a game I love at the highest level," said Bennett, who has been a FIFA referee since 2002. "I think it's a huge statement and a testament to our commitment to making our program one of the best in the world. A single ref doesn't make it to the World Cup on their own. It takes a team of people who are willing to take the time and make the investment in that referee. Having two referees at the World Cup is phenomenal for U.S. soccer and is really representative of the quality of the programs that we have in place."
The selection process included intense scrutiny of the world's best women's soccer officials at the last three Algarve Cups (2005, 2006 and 2007), the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship in Russia, a training camp in the Canary Islands in January 2007 and a final period of preparation and training at the home of FIFA in Zurich in May.
The tournament referees were chosen after completing an intensive training program aimed at optimizing their performances at the FIFA Women's World Cup. In addition to participating in practical training sessions, the referees were tested on the Laws of the Game and the English language. The applicants also had to pass strenuous physical and medical examinations.
"This is the most excited I've ever been," said Seitz, who officiated at the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cups. "This is an incredible honor. This is the most stringent qualification process to date and to continue to prove yourself time and again is really a testament to the hard work, dedication and support that we get. It is a particular honor because of the time and effort that went into it."
The FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007 will take place in Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Wuhan from Sept. 10-30, 2007.
See the full list of officials at: http://www.ussoccer.com/articles/viewArticle.jsp_1114112.html