American referee Tori Penso picked by FIFA for England-Spain final at Women’s World Cup

She will complete a rare double after also working one of the semifinals

Referee Tori Penso
Referee Tori Penso on August 8, 2023.CARL RECINE (REUTERS)

American referee Tori Penso was picked Friday by FIFA for the Women’s World Cup final between Spain and England to complete a rare double after also working one of the semifinals. A Florida native, Penso will return Sunday to Stadium Australia in Sydney, where she refereed England’s 3-1 win Wednesday over the co-host nation.

“We know that it came across quite unexpectedly, her appointment, because she was appointed for the semifinal,” said FIFA referees boss Pierluigi Collina, “but we are fully convinced that the best has to be the referee for the final, and she was the best.”

Penso’s team for the final includes assistants running the touchlines, Brooke Mayo and Kathryn Nesbitt. Nesbitt also worked at the men’s World Cup in Qatar last year.

Their selection was revealed on a jersey by Collina in a meeting of all the remaining match officials who are working in Australia and New Zealand.

“When he flipped that over to showcase my name, I melted,” Penso said in an interview published by FIFA. “I didn’t even know how I reacted, to be honest. Tears of joy, for sure, but I was just overwhelmed with emotion.”

Penso has officiated men’s games in Major League Soccer since 2020 — the first woman to do so in 20 years. Her husband, Chris, also has been an MLS referee on the FIFA list for international games. They have three daughters.

Penso’s path to the Women’s World Cup final opened after the two-time defending champion U.S. team was eliminated in the round of 16 by Sweden.

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