, the first American to referee two matches in a single World Cup, has been named the 2020 winner of U.S. Soccer's Werner Fricker Builder Award.
At the 1998 World Cup
in France, the Iranian-American worked Spain-Nigeria in Nantes, but his most famous assignment came later when he worked the Brazil-Norway match in Marseille. With the match tied at 1-1 late in the
game and Norway needing a victory, Baharmast awarded Norway a penalty kick for a foul by Brazilian Junior Baiano
on Tore Andre Flo
. Kjetil Rekdal
converted in the 89th minute and
Norway won, 2-1.
Media around the world heaped criticism on Baharmast for the decision until a Swedish television station broadcast unseen footage that clearly showed his call was
In 1996, he called the first MLS game -- San Jose-D.C. United -- and the Olympic men's semifinals -- Argentina-Portugal.
After retiring from officiating in 1998,
Baharmast became the director of officials for U.S. Soccer, and has been a member of the Concacaf referees' committee since 2003. He is the director of referees for the Colorado Soccer Association and
works for FIFA as an instructor, assessor and mentor.
"It's an incredible surprise and I am beyond words," Baharmast said. "When I look at the names of the recipients of this
distinguished honor, it's a who's who of soccer in the United States that have given so much to the game. To be mentioned in the same breath as them is both a humbling and proud moment in my life." Werner Fricker Builder Award recipient
2002 Werner Fricker Sr.
2003 Sunil Gulati
2005 Gerhard Mengel
2007 Francisco Marcos
2008 Bob Gansler
2009 Alan Rothenberg
2010 Bob Contiguglia
2011 Kevin Payne
2012 Hank Steinbrecher
2014 Richard Groff
2015 Bruce Arena
2016 Anson Dorrance
2017 Mary Harvey
2018 Tony DiCicco
2019 April Heinrichs
2020 Esse Baharmast
Photo: Andy Mead/Icon