FIFA Referee Battling Coronavirus On the Front Line

Ekaterina “Katja” Koroleva FIFA Referee & Health Worker

FIFA referee Ekaterina “Katja” Koroleva is one of the United States top women referee’s having officiated games in the National Women’s Soccer League and the United Soccer League as well as being a video assistant referee in Major League Soccer, whilst in 2017 she was also included on the list for the FIFA Women’s U17 World Cup in Jordan.

However this season, she has not been able to officiate in some of the region’s most important women’s national tournaments as she works as a physician assistant in the Emergency Room at Regional Medical Center in San Jose, California. This is because she is on the frontline battling against the COVID-19 pandemic, working nights hoping to bend the curve of this deadly virus.

Speaking about working in the medical centre Ekaterina Koroleva said, “It is exhausting, fulfilling, challenging and exciting. This is all new medicine the virus is new in many ways an we are all finding new pathways on how to deal with it and learning from each other trying to treat a large number of patients, who are both anxious and worried about it and many are ill and afraid of spreading the virus to their loved ones and their families, so it is navigating new territory for everyone. But I think the community here in San Jose have done a great job of isolating, using social distancing and taking this seriously.

Everyone is worried about contracting the virus and we see a lot of death on TV, but the reality is that the majority of patients I see with COVID-19 are stable enough that they can go home and self-quarantine. They are able to take medications prescribed and treat for themselves at home and hopefully prevent the spread to family members. Unfortunately the really ill patients are the older people in the community, but the majority of patients that I see are stable enough to go home and treat this virus with supportive measures.”

Koroleva earned a Master’s Degree in Science for this medical provider role, in addition to being a FIFA referee in which she has officiated in both the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship and the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championships said the two worlds may initially appear very different, but in fact she has found there are similarities in her work both on and off the field.

“The biggest thing is that no two days are alike in my world. In the ER department I never know what patients I will see and what the circumstances will be. No matter how much I can prepare and how much my graduate school training can prepare me, every situation and every patient is different. That correlates exactly to the experience I have on the field in that the amount of knowledge we can have about players, about teams, about the circumstances of what we perceive will happen will be different every match, so it is the adaptability that is the biggest factor in both of my worlds.

In addition prioritization is the key in the ER, most of the time I am dealing with around five to eight patients depending on how busy we are, so prioritizing who needs immediate attention and who’s ill plays a factor. The same goes for refereeing prioritizing contact or a foul during the match needs a correct decision to creating a safe playing environment and a beautiful game for the fans and players to enjoy, that’s what comes to mind.

I think in this time we all miss sports, it is something that is lacking in our daily lives to have this platform to come together as a community. It doesn’t matter if that is to support our team or to fight the battle against Coronavirus as long as we get on the same page it will help support and grow our communities together.”

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