October 23rd, 2020

Canada’s Chenard calls an end to storied career as international soccer referee


By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on October 15, 2020.

Referee Carol Anne Chenard makes a call during FIFA Women's World Cup soccer action between Germany and Cote d'Ivoire, in Ottawa, Sunday, June 7, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Veteran Canadian official Carol Anne Chenard has retired from International soccer after some 15 years as a FIFA international referee.

The 43-year-old from Summerside, P.E.I., was slated to work the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France but withdrew after being diagnosed with breast cancer. She had hoped to return to action this year but says stepping away now makes sense given the challenges facing international soccer due to COVID-19.

“It’s time,” Chenard said in a statement. “While it might not be how I saw my on-field career ending, now’s the time given the limitations football is facing in light of the global pandemic.”

Chenard has taken charge of big matches around the globe. She officiated at the 2011 and 2015 Women’s World Cup, the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was referee for FIFA U-20 World Cup finals in 2010 and 2014.

Like players, officials are judged by their performance. Only the good ones keep going in top tournaments.

“Carol Anne Chenard has long been at the pinnacle of international refereeing, breaking barriers over an impressive career that placed her as an inspiration for aspiring referees from coast-to-coast-to-coast,” said Canada Soccer president Steven Reed. “We are proud of and celebrate Carol Anne’s professional achievements and know that she will continue to be a leader for young referees in Canada and abroad.”

Chenard made history in May 2019 as part of the first all-woman crew of on-field officials in the Canadian Premier League when she took charge of the game between Forge FC and Cavalry FC in Hamilton, along with assistants Stephanie Fortin and Chantal Boudreau and fourth official Alexis Vaughan.

“I consider myself a referee, not a female referee,” she said at the time.

After being appointed to the final of the 2016 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, Chenard was part of a crew of elite female referees to earn appointment to the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

Chenard was the lone Canadian referee at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, taking charge of both a quarterfinal and a semifinal.

She was also the only Canadian referee at the 2012 Olympics, where her assignments included Britain versus Brazil in the group stage. The first women’s international to be played at Wembley Stadium, the game drew a crowd of 70,584.

In 2018, Chenard was appointed to both the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 Championship and the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France, which were her last major international tournament appointments before her appointment to the 2019 World Cup.

Chenard, who became a FIFA ref in 2006, was just the fourth Canadian referee to serve 15 or more years on the FIFA List of Referees and Assistant Referees.

“Refereeing is a lot of hard work, a lot of the time is spent out of the spotlight, but the rewards and opportunities are worth it, but you have to stay humble,” she said. “You do the work, surround yourself with the right people and be ready to seize your opportunity.”

A former international short-track speedskater from 1998 to 2002, Chenard won six World Cup medals and once co-owned a world record in the 3,000 metres.

She also holds a PhD in microbiology and immunology from McGill University and speaks English, French and Spanish. Away from the soccer field, she worked for the federal government in Health Canada with an expertise is compliance and enforcement, regulating companies whose products involve controlled substances.

Chenard took her first officiating course as a teenager at the request of a soccer coach who wanted to ensure the players understood the laws of the game.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2020

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