Ted Unkel, FIFA Referee of the Week April 12th


Ted Unkel
Twitter: @TedUnkel

Ted, in his own words:

It was 2004 and I was a Grade 7 for years.  After all, refereeing soccer was nothing more than a hobby and a way to spend time with my dad on weekends.  A free Saturday, a State Cup qualifier at Lakewood Ranch and a phone call from Ken Miller’s wife to her husband – or so the story goes – and all of a sudden I get an invite to Panama City for State Cup Final Four.  I remember Bud Wandell telling me that he was starting to referee college soccer and he had to go to Orlando for a game.  I thought, ‘why would he ever drive all the way from Sarasota to Orlando to referee a soccer game?’  No way I’m driving to Panama City for one.  [It is 450 miles to drive from Sarasota to Panama City]. Yet, I did.  And, well, it changed my life.

If there’s one thing about this referee life, [it] is that everyone’s path is different.  There is no set framework.  All you can do is be the best you can be every time you take the field and represent yourself in the best light off of it.

This is my 11th season as a professional referee, 4th year on the FIFA panel and God willing will reach my 100th whistle in the MLS in 2019.  I’ve been on a World Cup Qualifier in Azteca, in a tournament in Portugal and took charge of China’s most important domestic match in Shanghai in 2017.  Good thing I drove to Panama City.

My wife referees a little bit too.  Some of you might have met her – I hope you have, as she’s such an amazing ambassador for the refereeing community.  You need people like this in your refereeing career, so please go meet them, ask questions, pick their brains.  There is no substitution for experience.  I have my trusted group, and I wouldn’t be successful without them.

There is nothing more important to me than family. Everything I do is for them, and last flight out / first flight in has always been my mantra.  I’d challenge you to do the same.  Spend more time with good people, because life is better that way.  Give back to whomever and however you can.

On that note, I’ll do my best to do just that this summer in Baton Rouge as I’ll be instructing at Southern Regionals.  Please say hi if we get to cross paths, and I’ll leave you with what I tell Christina and my crews before matches:  “Be Great!”

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  1. Pingback: FIFA Referee Ted Unkel In His Own Words Video – FLSRC – Florida Soccer Referees

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