Professional Referee Organization sends 6 officials to 2022 World Cup

Six officials from the Professional Referee Organization will be part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup this November and December, the group announced Thursday.

The group includes referee Ismail Elfath, assistant referees Kyle Atkins, Kathryn Nesbitt, and Corey Parker, and video match officials Drew Fischer and Armando Villarreal.

A total of 36 referees will head to Qatar from around the world, in addition to 69 assistant referees and 24 video match officials.

“We are delighted that the years of dedication and commitment these officials have invested to develop their skills and serve the game have been rewarded through selection to this prestigious event,” PRO general manager Howard Webb said in a release.

“I know they will represent our organization in the most positive way. They will undoubtedly inspire others to join the officiating ranks and, as their colleagues did at the 2018 World Cup, again demonstrate to the world the high quality of match officials we have here in North America.”

Elfath, the 2020 MLS Referee of the Year, has been on the international panel since 2016 and officiated at two Concacaf Gold Cups and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games held last summer.

Atkins and Parker have a combined total of 13 years of experience on the FIFA panel and more than 300 MLS regular-season games of experience between them.

Nesbitt joins a pioneering list of five other female officials who FIFA has selected as the first women to officiate in a men’s World Cup. She worked with Atkins and Elfath to officiate the MLS is Back Tournament Final in 2020.

Fischer and Villarreal are both established video match officials, working high-profile games in the MLS and international arenas.