Swedish pro Palmqvist heads women's WCup referees

BY foxsports • April 18, 2011

Jenny Palmqvist of Sweden will be the only professional referee to handle matches when the women's World Cup kicks off in Germany in June.

Palmqvist, also the oldest at the 16-nation tournament at age 42, was named by FIFA on Monday among 16 referees and 32 assistants.

FIFA head of women's refereeing Sonia Denoncourt said her team's standards had made ''big improvements'' since the 2007 tournament in China.

''They are a lot more professional and focussed,'' Denoncourt told The Associated Press. ''Many have sacrificed a lot in their families and their job, some even losing their job, to be as professional as they can be.''

Finau Vulivuli, a 29-year-old teacher from Fiji, is the youngest and the only referee from Oceania.

United States referee Kari Seitz will officiate at her fourth straight women's World Cup and is among three from the CONCACAF region.

Carol Anne Chenard of Canada will return to Germany after working at the final of the Under-20 World Cup there last year, when the host beat Nigeria.

Europe provides six referees including Dagmar Damkova of the Czech Republic. She handled the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal match as the U.S. beat Brazil.

German police officer Bibiana Steinhaus has prepared for her home World Cup by officiating men's matches in the Bundesliga second division.

Denoncourt said FIFA supports the women with the same level of fitness training, post-match analysis and psychological support as the men's referees received at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

''The chances to make a mistake is high in this kind of job, so people have to be strong,'' said Denoncourt, a Canadian who refereed at three women's World Cups from 1995-2003.

''Our big goal for the World Cup is 100 percent accuracy in the crucial decisions. You may miss that little push, but don't miss that penalty kick that would decide the match,'' she said.

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