Gino Dippolito

“I started refereeing in 1963 in Eastern New York. I was playing in a game and I was unhappy with the referee’s performance. After the game, I told the referee how I felt about his officiating. His response was, “If you think you could have done a better job, why don’t you become a referee yourself?”

So I did.

Three months later, in November 1963, I was assigned as a linesman for a local game. The referee and the other AR did not show up, so I became the referee. My father and brother were there at that game. I remember being afraid and my father telling me they called me all sorts of names. That game was tough! I refereed the same two teams the following year and this time no one was complaining.

I fell in love with being a referee, and in 1968 I got invited to the pros. The league was the NPSL and there was a tryout for upcoming players. All the teams in the league were playing a pre-season warm-up tournament in a “round robin” format all weekend long. This was the place where the league could experiment with new referees. All the referees before me did 20 minutes on the line, 20 minutes as a referee, and so on, until they were stopped. They told me to ref, after 20 minutes they said, Ok your time is up you’re done, thank you for coming. I thought, “Well, I gave it my best shot.”

About a month later, Eddie Pearson called me to be in a pro game. I asked him which AR I was replacing, and he told me “No, you are the referee.” The game was in Washington, D.C. The teams were the Atlanta Chiefs featuring Phil Woosnam versus the Washington Darts featuring Johnny Kerr. By 1971, I was recommended for FIFA. In order to qualify for the FIFA list you needed to successfully officiate two international matches. My first was the United States versus New Zealand and the second was the United States versus China. China was not in good standing with FIFA at that time, they were in and out of FIFA and when I refereed this game (US vs. China), they weren’t in good standing so the match did not count. Because of this technicality, I did not make it onto the FIFA list. So I had to wait for my next opportunity.

In 1975 it happened. I refereed two successful games in a tournament in Costa Rica and got my FIFA badge. The games were Costa Rica versus Guatemala and Costa Rica versus Ecuador. Since then, I have refereed in every soccer final the USA has to offer - MISL, NASL, ASL, etc. The only final game I did not officiate was the college NCAA final. I was assigned to referee the college final twice but on both occasions was called the day before to referee an NASL game the very same day.

Photograph of Ed Bellion, Bob Evans and GIno Dippolito (April 9th,1977) in Dallas between the Tornado and Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League.

In 1980, I was chosen to referee in the 1980 Moscow Olympics in the USSR, but an Olympic boycott by the USA kept me from my dream of officiating in the Olympics. I was also an official at Pele's first and last games as a New York Cosmos player. His first game was on Randall’s Island, New York, and I was a linesman. I was the referee for his last game which was played in Giants Stadium, and televised worldwide. I was an official in over 600 NASL games (middles and lines) from1968 – 1984. I officiated the Copa Liberators final (about the year 1978-1980), Boca Juniors (Argentina) versus Bangu (Brazil).

I have travelled to over 29 countries to referee international games, as well as 15 World Cup Qualifiers for the 1978, 1982, and 1986 World Cups.

I have been an official for over 1500 MISL/MSL/CISL games from 1978 – 2001. I was a full time referee in the MISL from 1979-1986. In the 1980’s the MISL had several series of trading cards, and of course there was a Gino D’Ippolito trading card.

I was also a FIFA Referee from 1975 – 1985, as well as a US Soccer National Assessor from 1985 until the present and an inspector/assessor at every level from international games to Armed Forces games and I am also an MLS coach/mentor.



*Gino was also awarded the following:

  • Hall of Fame - Westchester Youth Soccer League (2010)
  • Life Membership Award - NISOA (2012)