Canada Soccer

Quebec's Hall of Fame honours Sonia Denoncourt

Posted on 1 December 2005 in Awards & Recognition

Sherbrooke's Sonia Denoncourt started out on her refereeing career in 1978, at the age of 14, combining that with a playing career that took her to university level. She then had to make a choice that she will surely have never regretted. For 26 years, from 1978 to 2004, Sonia Denoncourt has been a pioneer in the field of refereeing and has written her name into Quebec, Canadian and international soccer history.

Sonia Denoncourt has won the Quebec Soccer Federation's “Referee of the Year” award on five separate occasions: 1993, 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2000. She was a winner of the Official of the Year at the Gala Sports-Québec in 1995, 1996 and 1999, as well as being a finalist on one occasion, in 2001. Last June, she was inducted into Canadian soccer's Hall of Fame. Sonia is a model of professionalism, perseverance, courage and integrity.

Sonia Denoncourt was the first female referee to obtain her FIFA international badge, as well as being the first female referee to officiate an A-League game in 1991, which was an unheard of occurrence at that time. She became FIFA's first female referee and was the first woman to referee men's first division matches, in El Salvador in 1996, and then in Brazil in 1997. The match in Brazil took place in a packed stadium in Sao Paulo, with many millions more watching the game live on television.

Before her retirement in July 2004, Denoncourt was the only referee in Canada, either male or female, to have officiated in 100 international matches. She has refereed in three FIFA World Cups (1995, 1999 and 2003), two Olympic Games (1996 and 2000), took charge of the first FIFA World Female All-Star game played in California, in 1997, and has officiated in the Women's Gold Cup (in 2000 and 2002), the Francophone Games, the Algarve Cup in Portugal, as well as the Men's World Military Championships in Barbados (2003) and the Women's World Military Championships in Germany (2003).

In 1994, she was one of three women officials to be on the FIFA men's list. For the past five years, she has been employed by the Canadian Soccer Association, which has enabled her to combine her passion with her work. In 2004, Sonia Denoncourt gained further recognition by being the first woman in a group of 25 FIFA-designated instructors to take the FUTURO III course. She was among the twelve from this group that were selected to act as instructors at the Women's U-19 World Championships that took place in Thailand, in November 2004. She was so impressive in this role that, in October 2005, FIFA hired her to head its new women's referee development program. As of December 1, 2005, at the age of 41, she will take up her prestigious new position in Zurich, Switzerland.

In recognition of your exceptional contribution to the development and promotion of soccer, and to ensure that our sporting history is always remembered, the name of Sonia Denoncourt is hereby inducted into the Builder's Category of the Quebec Soccer Hall of Fame.

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