Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Olympic Dream for a Referee; Fletcher Graduate 1 of 2 Soccer Officials Representing U.S. in London

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Olympic Dream for a Referee; Fletcher Graduate 1 of 2 Soccer Officials Representing U.S. in London

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler

Sean Hurd began refereeing Jacksonville Beach youth soccer games as a teen simply to earn some spending money.

On Wednesday the now-father of two left town for London to work on a bit bigger field with a lot more at stake. Though he won't earn a penny, he couldn't be happier.

Hurd, 40, is one of two U.S. soccer judges chosen to referee at the Olympics when the men's games begin Thursday.

His role as an assistant referee - each game has a head ref, two assistants and an alternate - involves sideline work that primarily focuses on offside and out-of-bounds calls. He can also assist the head referee in calling player fouls.

Hurd, an operations manager for Merrill Lynch, said he is thrilled, humbled and a little nervous about performing on the world stage.

"There's a lot of anxiety in terms of knowing that we are representing all referees in the U.S.," Hurd said. "We want to make sure we are prepared and we deliver so that FIFA, as an international governing body, recognizes the quality of the refs in the U.S."

Hurd played soccer at Fletcher High School and began refereeing as a 15-year-old for Beaches soccer. He refereed at high school games while at the University of Florida and later called adult amateur games.

The 20-team outdoor Major League Soccer chose Hurd as one of its 28 assistant referees in 2006 after noting his work in an elite referee seminar. His work at one to two weekend national tournaments a month led FIFA to select him as an assistant referee in 2009.

Hurd draws no salary for MLS or FIFA but gets all-expenses-paid trips to tournaments coast to coast and across the world. His first FIFA tournament was in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, while his travels have also taken him to Central and South America, Mexico and Canada.

He said his wife, two daughters and bosses appreciate his work as a ref and are flexible with his schedule. …

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