For the first time in state history, a Mississippian has been selected to officiate for the world’s largest sporting governing body.
Jackson native Alyssa Nichols, a former multi-sport athlete at Murrah High School, will be the first to represent the Magnolia State as a FIFA official.
Nichols began refereeing soccer matches as a part-time job at age 17 to earn a little spending money because her busy athletics calendar prevented her from working full-time.
The occupation turned into a passion and became an integral part of Nichols’ life. Although Nichols did not enter officiating with a future career in mind, support and encouragement from the community, as well as a natural gift for the job opened the door for the Mississippi native to represent her state in front of global audiences.
“I’ve just had a bunch of different people invest in me and help develop me. They saw something in me at a very early stage and were willing to encourage me and support me to get to this point,” Nichols said on Good Things with Rebecca Turner. “To be honest with you, when I first started, I didn’t even know that this was a thing. It’s kind of surreal now to look back at 10 years ago where it all started and where it is now.”
Nichols is now rostered as an on-field referee for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and an official for Major League Soccer (MLS) with goals of becoming an on-field referee for both MLS and the FIFA World Cup — the most popular sporting event globally.
The U.S. will be one of three host countries for the 2026 FIFA World Cup. Officials for the event are vetted and assessed four years prior to the event, which prevents Nichols from participating in her new role. However, she still has aspirations to represent her country in future World Cup matches.
“That would be a dream, but the process for world cups starts four years out, so I will just be shy of that window. But definitely, I hope there will be representation from the United States at the World Cup when it’s here,” Nichols added. “I wouldn’t be eligible for that, but you never know.”
While Nichols will not be involved as a referee in the 2026 World Cup, she plans to attend as a spectator and also hopes that the global event taking place in America will grow the game nationwide.
The full interview with Nichols can be watched below.