New Jersey soccer hasn’t only turned out some of the nation’s finest male and female soccer players, it’s also been the training ground for individuals who have gone on to become top-ranking United States Soccer Federation referees.
John Santo is one of them.
Santo started officiating at the USSF State Level in 1982 when he was first assigned by the late Charlie Stillitano, an NJSA Hall of Fame administrator, to officiate games in the Italian-American League.
John soon went on to work matches in the L.I.S.A. League, the Garden State Soccer League, and the Cosmopolitan League in the metropolitan New York area.
Prior to reaching the highest level of amateur soccer in the Garden State, John had worked as a referee in youth games for the Mid-NJ Soccer League and many Youth Tournaments around the Garden State.
John did such an outstanding job officiating those youth matches that he soon was selected to work in three Regional Youth Tournaments in the Middle Atlantic area.
In ’86 John achieved State Level USSF 6 and worked GSSL Semi-Pro League games. By ’92 he had become a National Referee and did work several games in the minor pro leagues prior to the formation of the MLS.
Born in Czechoslovakia, his family immigrated to Israel after World War II where they lived for 10 years before arriving in the United States in 1957.
John had played soccer in youth leagues in Philadelphia as well as in high school and at Wilkes College in Scranton, PA where he attended college to earn a BA in Mathematics.
As a collegiate player he achieved All-MAC status. Academically he received a masters in Math Education from Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey).
John has officiated NJ Adult League soccer for over 30 years. He has lost count of how many matches he has officiated in his career, but it’s a good bet that his experience in the state’s many outdoor and indoor leagues is likely into the thousands.