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Ready to get 'yelled at': Halifax referee picked to officiate at FIFA Women's World Cup again

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin has been appointed to officiate at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The Dalhousie professor is seen in her Halifax home on Tuesday. - Tim Krochak
Marie-Soleil Beaudoin has been appointed to officiate at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The Dalhousie professor is seen in her Halifax home on Tuesday. - Tim Krochak

Marie-Soleil Beaudoin loves soccer so much she chose the thankless role of referee just to stay involved in the sport.

“I don’t think any 14-year-old looks at soccer on the TV and says I want to be the person who gets yelled at,” Halifax’s Beaudoin joked in a recent interview. “But I’m a much better referee than I ever was a player.”

And a decorated official at that.

Since she stopped playing competitive soccer about 15 years ago, Beaudoin has moved up the referee ranks in this country.

Last week, she was one of four Canadian women selected to officiate at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“She is the best choice in the country,” Carman King, a referee development officer for Soccer Nova Scotia and one of two national instructors in the province, said in a news release. “We’re incredibly proud of Marie-Soleil’s achievements and it’s been nothing short of an honour to support her development.”

The quadrennial world championship for women’s soccer will be held from July 10 to Aug. 20, 2023.



Referee Marie-Soleil Baudoin of Halifax gives a yellow card to Alexander Gonzalez of Pacific FC during a Canadian Premier League game on Oct. 9, 2019 at the Wanderers Grounds. Beaudoin is the first female to officiate a CPL game.- Tim Krochak
Referee Marie-Soleil Baudoin of Halifax gives a yellow card to Alexander Gonzalez of Pacific FC during a Canadian Premier League game on Oct. 9, 2019 at the Wanderers Grounds. Beaudoin is the first female to officiate a CPL game.- Tim Krochak

It will be her second women’s World Cup after she appeared at the 2019 tournament in France. Beaudoin was only guaranteed to work one game but did such an excellent job, she officiated four games in total including the semifinal match between the Netherlands and Sweden.

“A FIFA appointment is always an honour,” she said.

Beaudoin received her referee badge from FIFA, the highest governing body of football, in 2014.

Since then, she has officiated at two CONCACAF under-17 women’s championships, the 2015 Pan Am Games and the 2016 and ’18 editions of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. The latter event she worked the final.

“Little by little, the right people saw me perform and I started to move up the ranks,” Beaudoin said. “I find when things get easy, it gets boring. Well, refereeing is never easy. There’s always a challenge and you never know what’s going to happen in a game. There’s a level of novelty. That keeps me going, keeps me motivated.”

Born in North Vancouver and raised in Quebec City, Beaudoin graduated from McGill University with a bachelor in science, minoring in education. She then attended the University of Guelph and earned her masters in science and a PhD in nutrition, exercise and metabolism.

The 38-year-old is currently a professor of physiology and biophysics at Dalhousie.

Just like any elite athlete, referees must do a lot of preparation and training to stay in shape.

Officials run at least 10 kilometres during a single game so Beaudoin needs to keep her fitness in peak condition.

“I really compare our group of officials to a national team,” Beaudoin said. “We have physical training, technical training and match training. From a day-to-day perspective, I’m an elite athlete just like any of the players. I train every day. FIFA monitors our training through a GPS units and heart rate monitors that we wear.

“FIFA works on a three-year cycle, just like any national team,” she continued. “You wouldn’t expect a national team to go to a World Cup unprepared. It’s the same thing for referees. We train for those three years, leading up to that big event. In the cycle for 2019, I was a rookie. There were some expectations from me but there were more experienced people who had gone through and were leading the way. My role was like a support official. Going into this second cycle, the expectations have changed.

“It’s a three-year process to make sure that we are technically, physically and psychologically ready to perform on the biggest stage in the world in 2023.”



Referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin makes a call during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal match between the Netherlands and Sweden in Lyon, France. - Petter Arvidson / File
Referee Marie-Soleil Beaudoin makes a call during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal match between the Netherlands and Sweden in Lyon, France. - Petter Arvidson / File

Beaudoin could also be considered as a trailblazer.

When she officiated the HFX Wanderers’ first home opener at the Wanderers Grounds in April 2019, Beaudoin became the first female referee to work a Canadian Premier League match.

“Do I feel like a pioneer?” she asked rhetorically. “I guess I have to recognize that when people come to the Wanderers game and they see a ponytail on the referee it can be surprising. But I follow a huge tradition of very strong women referees in Canada.”

Beaudoin cited renowned Canadian soccer officials Carol Anne Chenard – who retired at the completion of the 2020 season – Sonia Denoncourt and Denise Robinson as influences.

“In the referee world, they have been trailblazers and they’re Canadian,” Beaudoin said.

“I am lucky that I am Canadian. There are other women in the world who have the same ability and same talent but don’t get the same support because the culture doesn’t allow it. The support I get from Soccer Canada and Soccer Nova Scotia has really helped me to get to this position.

“It may not be common in Canada but it is accepted that a woman can referee a men’s game.”

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