News Detail


September 22, 2016

“Good evening, I am Cal South,” said Toros Kibritjian at the 2015 Cal South Annual General Meeting.

“When I began my career as a soccer referee 58 years ago, we had 20 referees in Southern California in the Greater Los Angeles Soccer League. Now, [there are] 8,000 registered referees with Cal South today,” he added.

In the soccer world, being a referee is a job that not everyone is fond of. Out of all the on-field participants, referees typically get the shorter end of the stick; they get yelled at, and in the worst cases, insulted or aggravated.

However, Kibritjian has held his name and title as a referee very high for over 60 years. From refereeing local soccer games to refereeing official FIFA games, Kibritjian has done it all, helping improve the world of soccer refereeing and upholding its standard to the highest level.

But before it all, in 1957 to be exact, Kibritjian was in a car accident that incapacitated him from continuing his career as a soccer player. However, he still wanted to be a part of the beautiful game.

While being a spectator at a soccer game, Kibritjian constantly complained to his neighbor about the officiating, complaining enough to grab the ear of the then President of Refereeing. The president then suggested that he go to the referee meetings to teach himself more about the rules.

Curious and determined to show that he knew everything about the game, Kibritjian attended the meeting and took a 50-question test that he failed miserably. It was then that he was inspired to learn more and help make a difference in the world of refereeing.

Now, almost 60 years later, because of his hard work and dedication to the world of refereeing, Kibritjian will be inducted into the United States Adult Soccer Association’s Hall of Fame, ceremony that will take place on October 1 in Orlando, Fla.

“This is one of the best one I had,” he said about his induction. “USASA has all the players that I refereed in the past 60 years, so they’ll come back to me. That’s why I’m so happy.”

But Kibritjian is no stranger to hall of fames, being inducted to the Cal South Hall of Fame as the Class of 2015 alongside US Women’s National Team player Rachel Van Hollebeke, Frank Sanford, and John Napier. Counting on international and domestic officiating experience, Kibritjian has become a key member of the Cal South family, playing an important role in the development of the associations referee program.

After retiring from FIFA after 15 years of service, a task only 10 active FIFA male referees in the world have either matched or surpassed, Kibritjian turned to Cal South, dedicating all his time, passion and dedication for refereeing into the development of what is now known as the Youth Referee Development Program.

“When I retired, I said, ‘Ok, this is what’s going to happen now, we’re going to change a lot of things.’ The Youth Referee Development Program came in, and I worked very hard on that,” he said. “Cal South made me what I am right now, especially George Noujaim being the backbone to all my work, and we did fine.”

But Kibritjian, who has refereed every tournament that can come to mind, continues being active in the Cal South community as a whole, serving as a national referee assessor, instructor, mentor and observer. As a mentor, Kibritjian works closely and hard with young referees so that they too may someday become FIFA Referees just like him, offering his most sincere advice and guidance.

“Never expect a compliment from anyone, never feel that someone will remember your contributions to the game, and never expect awards or medals for your hard work,” Kibritjian said about what advice he gives young referees. “Be a referee because you wish to be a referee. Be a referee because that satisfies your inner anxieties. Be a referee because you have something to give to the game.”

Despite his family’s insistence, Kibritjian is not ready to hang up his boots just yet, as he continues to work doing what he loves most and giving his life to soccer.

“There were two Armenians walking on Mount Ararat, one older, one younger. The older guy, all of a sudden on a stiff cliff slips and falls down and the younger guy says, ‘Are you hurt?’ ‘No’ came the answer from the guy who’s falling. ‘Well,’ shouted the guy from above, ‘how far are you falling?’ ‘I don’t know,’ came the voice from below. ‘I haven’t hit the bottom yet.’”

“I haven’t hit the bottom yet, I’m still flying, I’m still here to work, I’m still here to be a part of Cal South, that’s my family,” he finalized.