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Nesbitt First Woman Named MLS Assistant Referee of the Year

November 19, 2020 - Major League Soccer (MLS) News Release


NEW YORK (Thursday) - Major League Soccer and the Professional Referee Organization today announced Ismail Elfath as MLS Referee of the Year and named Kathryn Nesbitt the 2020 MLS Assistant Referee of the Year. Nesbitt makes history as the first woman official to earn year-end recognition (by virtue of receiving an award or a championship assignment) in any of the five North American men's professional sports leagues.

During a breakout 2020 season, Nesbitt made her first bit of officiating history as an assistant referee for the MLS is Back Tournament Final in Orlando this summer. With that assignment, she became the first woman ever to be named to a league final officiating crew. Additionally, Nesbitt has earned 30 total assignments in all positions this year, doubling the 15 she achieved in each of the last two seasons respectively.

Nesbitt made her MLS debut in 2015, earning her way onto the FIFA panel of assistant referees in 2016. She was selected for the FIFA Women's World Cup in France (2019) and is among the emerging crop of 10 women officials breaking through the MLS ranks with a collective 74 assignments this season.

Ismail Elfath earns his first MLS Referee of the Year honors after previously receiving nominations in both 2013 and 2017. The nine-year MLS official with 160 total career referee assignments, has earned 16 center roles in 2020, including the MLS is Back Tournament Final.

A FIFA referee since 2012, Elfath's prestigious assignments have also included the MLS All-Star Game (2015), Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Conference Finals (2015, 2017), FIFA Under-20 World Cup Final (2019), FIFA Club World Cup (2019), and Concacaf Gold Cup (2019).

Nominated by the Professional Referee Organization, candidates for MLS Referee of the Year and Assistant Referee of the Year were voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and MLS players. Below is the voting breakdown for these two awards:

Referee of the Year Player % Club % Media % Final %

Ismail Elfath 38.27% 55.56% 59.29% 51.04%

Joe Dickerson 36.22% 30.56% 20.00% 28.93%

Jair Marrufo 25.51% 13.89% 20.71% 20.04%

Asst. Referee of the Year Player % Club % Media % Final %

Kathryn Nesbitt 46.88% 54.29% 67.88% 56.35%

Corey Rockwell 21.88% 31.43% 18.25% 23.85%

Cory Richardson 31.25% 14.29% 13.87% 19.80%

MLS Referee of the Year Winners:

2020: Ismail Elfath

2019: Allen Chapman

2018: Alan Kelly

2017: Allen Chapman

2016: Alan Kelly

2015: Alan Kelly

2014: Mark Geiger

2013: Hilario Grajeda

2012: Silviu Petrescu

2011: Mark Geiger

2010: Kevin Stott

2009: Alex Prus

2008: Jair Marrufo

2007: Brian Hall

2006: Brian Hall

2005: Brian Hall

2004: Abiodun Okulaja

2003: Brian Hall

2002: Kevin Terry

2001: Paul Tamberino

2000: Paul Tamberino

1999: Paul Tamberino

1998: Paul Tamberino

1997: Esse Baharmast

MLS Assistant Referee of the Year Winners:

2020: Kathryn Nesbitt

2019: Brian Dunn

2018: Joe Fletcher

2017: Corey Parker

2016: Frank Anderson

2015: Corey Parker

2014: Paul Scott

2013: Kermit Quisenberry

2012: Ian Anderson

2011: Corey Rockwell

2010: Craig Lowry

2009: Greg Barkey

2008: Kermit Quisenberry


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