Jozsef Michna became a referee starting at the amateur level in the former Gold Coast League in South Florida in 1976. Over the years he progressed to the professional and international ranks working in the North American Soccer League, American Professional Soccer League, National competitions, and with numerous Concacaf appointments and other FIFA appointments.
He had the distinguished honor in 1992 of being named one of the first two referees ever appointed as FIFA Assistant Referees in the United States. He held the appointment for two years before mandatory retiring due to FIFA’s age requirements. His friend Robert Heilman, formerly of Tampa, was the other original US FIFA Assistant Referee.
In 1997, Jozsef was inducted in the Florida State Referees (FSR) Hall of Fame (renamed FLSRC in 2016).
From 2006 to 2016, he served as a U.S. Soccer National Referee Instructor, conducting numerous clinics during USASA & USYS Region III tournaments and also as an instructor for annual recertification for National Referees.
On July 23, 2010 the Florida State Soccer Association (FSSA) inducted Jozsef into the FSSA Hall of Fame “in recognition for his outstanding service and contribution to the sport of soccer in Florida.” The award was presented at the conclusion of the FSR Referee Academy event at Stetson University, on behalf of FSSA, by “Sensei” Mario “Mac” Alarcon, Jozsef’s long-time mentor.
In 2012, US Soccer appointed him to administrate all running tests across the country at Referee Training Seminars for all FIFA and national referees.
In 2014, Jozsef became the 28th recipient of the Eddie Pearson Award which was presented to him on March 22, 2014. At that time, he had been involved with the U.S. Soccer Referee Program for 36 years.
FSSA Hall of Fame Award
The Eddie Pearson Award is presented to individuals from the US Soccer referee community who have made distinguished contributions to the national referee program and have been involved for at least 20 years. The award was created to honor Eddie Pearson, who worked with the Georgia State Soccer Association and dedicated his efforts and abilities to the development of soccer as a coach, referee, instructor and administrator until his untimely passing in September 1978.
Regarding the award, Jozsef said, “It was a great opportunity to be recognized by my peers, and obviously for the long service that I have provided for U.S. Soccer. It’s an honor to be even mentioned, especially with such a limited amount of people who received this award throughout the years. It’s a privilege that Angelo Bratsis nominated me, and it was just a wonderful surprise.”
Regarding his referee career, “I kept trying to get as many opportunities, and fortunately I had the chance to work professionally in the North American Soccer League, became a national referee, worked tournaments and national finals, and international games. Living in South Florida, there was constantly international soccer down here.”
For the past 25 years, Jozsef Michna has been a U.S. Soccer National Referee Coach, focusing on everything from the youth level to international matches. Some of his international assessments include the CONCACAF Champions League, the 2012 Olympics and also pre-qualifying for FIFA World Cups.
“Right now I’m an assistant referee coach [with the PRO], watching the ARs and fourth officials and evaluating their work,” he said. “It’s been very positive working with the PRO and how they are managing things.”
As is commonplace in the referee community with experienced former professional and international referees, Jozsef has taking his extensive knowledge and experience and has always attempted to impress that knowledge and experience upon future generations of referees and “make them better.” The list of referees over the years that have experienced success is long and distinguished due to his many influences. Several instructional videos featuring Jozsef teaching field training topics are posted in the FLSRC library video resources as well as the Eddie Pearson Award ceremony.
“There is always somebody looking out for you, but it’s not a world of entitlement,” He has said many times. “You give them tough love, encourage them, show them the way and make sure they produce. You help improve their skills both on and off the field, and through all of that you will receive the reward in the end.”
Jozsef Michna, National Referee Coach of the Week for March 8th.