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What about the refs? How NWSL officials will make the Challenge Cup work

Referee Tori Penso (Photo Copyright Lewis Gettier for The Equalizer)

The return of the National Women’s Soccer League later this month took the buy-in of all nine clubs — and players — who will congregate in Utah to contest the NWSL Challenge Cup. But there is another team vital to the operation, one that will not show in the standings but that will have representation at every match, right up through the final: the referees.

The Professional Referees Organizaion — PRO for short — is responsible for providing match officials for the NWSL and the other pro soccer leagues around North America. Alex Prus, the director of match officials for PRO, told The Equalizer that communication from the league has been top-notch regarding the safety protocols for Utah, and that his group had been sitting on ready, just awaiting word on when and where the games would resume.

“NWSL worked very hard to play this tournament, and when they reached out to me, they already had all the procedures in place for safety and testing,” Prus said. “They’re going to create this village for players and referees and staff. Everything was in place and they presented the safety protocols to us.”

Prus’ first step was to find out which NWSL referees — none of which are full time — were willing or able to participate.

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