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              <div id="parallax-world-of-ugg">
  
<section>
  <div class="title">
    <h1>Illinois Soccer Deserves Red Card For Inequality</h1>
    <h3>By Scott Guthrie</h3>
  </div>
</section>

<section>
    <div class="parallax-one">
      <h2>How sexism, discrimination, and intimidation run rampant in Illinois soccer officiating</h2>
    </div>
</section>

<section>
  <div class="block">
    <p><span class="first-character sc">I</span>f it were not for men, Christa Madison might never have become a soccer referee. Then again, if it were not for men, she might still be a soccer referee.</p>
    
    <p class="margin-top-10">Madison grew up playing soccer in the local Chicago park leagues. By age 13, she had developed into one of the top players in her age group. She dominated the competition. To keep games fair, her coach, who was also her dad, implemented a special rule.   </p>
    <p>“It was a three-goal rule. Once I scored three goals, I couldn’t score anymore so that the other girls on the team could score,” Madison said. </p>

<p>In 1998, her talent and sportsmanship caught the eye of a male referee who approached her and her dad after a game. He wanted Madison to become a referee.</p> 

      <p>Madison did not need to contemplate the offer. She agreed on the spot. Soon after, she began officiating soccer matches. </p> 

<p>As Madison began to climb the Illinois soccer referee ladder, she found herself in a world governed by men. A world where sexism, discrimination, and intimidation ran rampant, preventing women from officiating high-profile men’s soccer games. A world that did not have a place for female officials.</p>

<p>After being in that world for 15 years, Madison quit. </p> 

<p>“I married two years ago. I want to have a family. [Officiating] isn’t the most important thing anymore,” said Madison, now 31. “I got tired of going to events to suck up to men.” </p>

<p>Females have struggled to obtain refereeing opportunities in men’s sports. Neither Major League Baseball (MLB) nor the National Hockey League (NHL) has female officials. The National Football League (NFL) has one, and Major League Soccer (MLS) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) each have two. This is despite the fact that the qualities that make a good referee – knowledge of the game, a good eye, and the ability to perform under pressure – are not gender specific. </p> 

<p>Men’s soccer is a logical sport for women to officiate as it differs minimally from the women’s game. But in order for women officials to become qualified to referee MLS or World Cup games, they must have opportunities to develop at lower levels. </p>

<p>According to Madison, women are not receiving those opportunities in Illinois, and the structure of soccer officiating could be to blame. 
    </p>
  </div>
</section>

<section>
  <div class="parallax-two">
    <h2>Only 6 women in Illinois Are At A Level To Officiate A High School Soccer State Championship</h2>
  </div>
</section>

<section>
  <div class="block">
    <p><span class="first-character ny">I</span>ndividuals become soccer officials by passing a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) referee training course. There are eight referee grades, with eight being the lowest and one being the highest. A grade eight referee can officiate youth recreation league games. Grade one referees can officiate World Cup and international matches. Once an individual passes a USSF training course, he or she automatically becomes a grade eight referee.  </p> 

<p>Referees move to higher levels by passing on-field performance evaluations and off field fitness tests, and by officiating top-level matches such as club and high school state championships. </p>
 
<p>Each state has a referee governing body. These groups administer the performance and fitness tests, and assign officials to games. The governing body in Illinois is the Illinois Soccer Referee Committee (ISRC).</p>

<p>The ISRC is where the problem starts for females trying to officiate high-level men’s games according to Madison. Its board of directors is 90 percent male, most of who are from overseas. </p> 

<p>“A good majority of men who make decisions on our future are foreign. They don’t look favorably on women refereeing the men’s game,” Madison said. “They still think we should be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.” </p>

<p>The people responsible for assigning referees to games are called game assignors.  The ISRC has 117 of them. Only 24 are women, and only two of those 24 can assign games higher than youth recreation leagues. No women are able to assign adult league or adult tournament games.  </p>

<p>With so few women assigning referees in Illinois, it is no surprise that women rarely receive opportunities to officiate high-level games.</p>

<p>“I think that some of the assignors are biased and think that women can’t handle it, which is obviously not true,” Gigi Chambers, 47, said. Chambers is one of the two women able to assign youth club tournament games. </p>

<p>The IRSC did not respond to multiple interview requests.</p>
    
    <p>Steve Siomos, 63, from Greece is the only assignor in Illinois able to assign any level of game. Madison described Siomos as having a “monopoly” on the high-level matches in Illinois. An unnamed female referee accused Siomos of “hating” women.</p>

    <p>Siomos refuted those claims.</p>

<p>“I would love to have more women on my referee roster,” Siomos said. “If a female needs games in the state, she should contact me. I will give her the games.”   
</p>
  </div>
</section>

<section>
  <div class="parallax-three">
    <h2>Female Officials Are Told To Lose Weight and To Keep Make Up Subtle</h2>
  </div>
</section>

<section>
  <div class="block">
    <p><span class="first-character atw">W</span>omen are not being given the games, however. </p>
    
    <p>Since 1997, no female has officiated an Illinois high school boys or girls soccer state championship at any level. That is a total of 78 games and nearly 315 referees. The Illinois High School Association (IHSA), the group tasked with overseeing interscholastic sports competition in the state, did not return requests for comment.   </p>

<p>When women are not assigned top-tier games, they cannot advance due to lack of experience. This leads to a smaller pool of women to choose from when assigning top tier matches resulting in men continuing to be assigned. </p>

<p>“If you don’t have strong assignors that buy into the concept that a ref is a ref, then it gets harder and the numbers dwindle,” said Sandra Serafini, women’s referee manager at the Professional Referee Organization (PRO).</p> 

<p>The dwindling numbers are reflected in Illinois’ high school soccer officiating. According to the IHSA website, of the 1,211 officials who are able to referee high school games only 54, or 4.5 percent, are women. Only six of those 54 women qualify to officiate state championships. </p>

<p>“I find it surprising a bit,” Serafini said. “It seems odd to me that there is no one qualified, but we don’t have control over that.”   
    </p>
   </div>
 </section>
 <section>
    <div class="parallax-four">
      <h2>No Female Has Officiated A High School Soccer State Championship Since 1997</h2>
    </div>
</section>
  <section>
  <div class="block">
    <p><span class="first-character sc">P</span>RO is responsible for assigning referees to professional men’s and women’s leagues in the U.S. such as the MLS and the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). It is not associated with the IHSA.</p>
    
    <p> 
In her position at PRO, Serafini has discovered that women in all states, not only Illinois, have difficulty being assigned quality games. </p>

<p>“If girls want to move up they may have to look to try to get the games they need in other states,” Serafini said. “Very few men have to do this.” </p> 

<p>Female referees face other obstacles as well when trying to advance in men’s soccer. The fitness tests male and female refs must pass to advance take into account their physical abilities. In Illinois, these tests also consider how fit a referee appears according to Madison.  </p>

<p>“[Assessors and assignors] want you to look a certain part. You have to look fit and trim and have to look presentable,” Madison said.</p>

<p>Currently, referee uniforms are made for men only. Women are forced to wear baggy jerseys that make them appear out of shape. Female referees often have their uniforms tailored to fit tighter, but the ISRC does not pay for the alterations. </p> 

<p>“My daughter is an official, and we have had to tailor all her shirts,” Chambers said. “The shirts aren’t tailored for women, so we have to work with what we have.”</p> 

<p>Serafini, who is a former FIFA (soccer’s international governing body) official, tailored her uniforms but stated it was her choice. </p> 

<p>“It costs $45 for the shirt and another $45 to tailor it to fit me correctly,” Serafini said. “It’s the cost of business, but it’s not something that’s going to cost [girls] games.” </p> 

<p>That may not seem like a large amount, but Madison emphasized that most refs have up to 10 shirts; therefore, the costs add up. Contrary to Serafini’s point of view, Madison said she thinks women not tailoring their shirts could be detrimental, especially in Illinois.</p> 

<p>“If a female has a big chest, the jersey will be baggy around her midsection, and she might not get the games she needs,” Madison said. Madison added female officials in Illinois are told to lose weight and to keep their makeup subtle. </p> 

<p>State Director of Assessments, Elie Ghawi, the lone woman on the ISRC board of directors, declined to comment. Siomos denied that women officials are told to lose weight.  </p> 

<p>“No, [they aren’t told to lose weight] because none of them are overweight,” Siomos said. “Well, maybe they are at lower levels.”</p> 

<p>Female officials also face scrutiny from male coaches, players, and officials.</p>
  </div>
</section>
 <section>
    <div class="parallax-five">
      <h2>Female Refs Often Have To Go Out Of State To Get The Games They Need To Advance</h2>
    </div>
</section>
  <div class="block">
    <p><span class="first-character sc">M</span>adison recalled male players and coaches looking “doe-eyed” and “shocked” when she arrived to referee their games. Male officials on her crews routinely forced her to work the sideline despite her being assigned as the head official.  </p>
    
    <p> 
“I’ve had people tell me, ‘You wouldn’t have made that call if you were a guy,’” Madison said. She said that players and coaches often tested her more than they would a male referee, and that they thought they could get away with more because she is a woman.  </p> 

<p>Randy Vogt, the author of “Preventive Officiating” and columnist for Soccer America, agrees that men treat female officials differently.</p> 

<p>“Coaches will often look to intimidate a female official when they wouldn’t do the same with a man because they think the woman is easily intimidated,” said Vogt, who has officiated more than 9,000 games since becoming an official in 1978.  </p> 

<p>It cannot be denied; however, that one reason men receive more opportunities to officiated top-tier matches is because there are far more male officials than female officials.  </p> 

<p>“There isn’t something specific that prohibits women from officiating men’s games. It’s a numbers and logistics issue,” said Jen Mayfield, a former referee and Northwestern University soccer player. “That’s the root of the problem.” </p> 

<p>According to Siomos, Chicago alone has roughly 200 men’s soccer games each weekend. That number of games requires nearly 800 referees. With so many positions to fill, assignors often have no choice but to assign men because of the lack of female officials.</p>

<p>“You can go to any referee association across the United States, and I would be surprised if 15 percent of officials in any organization were women. Mostly it’s 10 percent or less,” Vogt said. “Every association I have worked with has only a couple female officials.”  </p>

<p>The low number of women soccer officials is concerning, especially considering that soccer is one of America’s most popular youth sports with high female participation. There are three million soccer players ages 5-19 registered with U.S. Youth Soccer, and nearly 50 percent are female.  </p> 

<p>However, female player participation does not correlate to a high number of female officials. While finding women officials is difficult, retaining them is harder.  </p> 

<p>Veronica Tannenbaum, 16, from Chicago went through referee training, officiated two games, and quit. </p> 

<p>“I know that I’d rather be the one following the rules than making them because one bad call, and you have a bad name for the rest of the game,” Tannenbaum said.</p> 

<p>Many females will start officiating but will not continue if they cannot advance with their peers according to Serafini, who says the highest concentration of female officials is found at the entry level.  </p>

<p>“Women run in packs, and it’s sometimes easier to recruit them in groups rather than individuals,” Serafini said. </p> 

<p>Vogt also blames the lack of facilities at soccer complexes for the shortage of female participation.  </p> 

<p>“Many fields don’t have bathrooms. Men get creative and use the bushes. It’s not as easy for a woman to do that,” Vogt said. He added that the lack of facilities causes some women to officiate without hydrating, which can be dangerous. </p> 

<p>Serafini first noticed the inequality among male and female soccer officials in men’s professional ranks when the NWSL was formed in 2001. </p>  

<p>“When the women’s professional league came around in 2001, a lot of women got tied to that league, and we saw a big drop of women in men’s professional leagues,” Serafini said. “The mindset became ‘We don’t see any women in the men’s league anymore so we are going to kind of save those opportunities for the guys.'” </p>

<p>Part of Serafini’s job is to identify up-and-coming female officials in the U.S. at the state level. Once a referee has been identified, Serafini and her team alert state assignors, telling them that PRO expects the referee to be assigned certain games. </p> 

<p>Serafini said this holds states accountable and helps ensure women receive opportunities to referee at the highest level.</p> 

<p>“It’s a combination of rattling some cages and networking, but our pool of who we can choose from is definitely growing, so [I’m] pleased with that, but it’s taken 5-6 years,” Serafini said.</p>

<p>Madison and female officials across the state hope that Serafini can create awareness in Illinois and that women start to receive the same opportunities as men to officiate the beautiful game. Siomos agrees. </p>

<p>“Soccer is one of the best sports in the world,” Siomos said. “There is no room for corruption.” </p>
  </div>
</section>
<section>
    <div class="parallax-six">
      <h2>No Female Refs Were Part Of The men's 2014 fifa world cup</h2>
    </div>
</section>
  
</div>
            
          
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