US SoccerUS Soccer

2004 Outlook for U.S. Soccer Referee Department

As part of our continuing effort to service and educate our membership, once a week, U.S. Soccer will publish an article/paper/essay that will hopefully enhance your enjoyment and knowledge of the game of soccer - on and off the field.

This month, a update from the U.S. Soccer referee department shows recent growth in registration, improventions in education and prestigious assignments for referees, instructors and assessors in 2003:

U.S. Soccer Referee Department Update Going into 2004

The U.S. Soccer Referee Department continued to take strides in 2003 as registrations reached an all-time high, new instructional and reference materials were introduced across the board and several U.S. referees and staff had significant roles at the Women’s World Cup and other international tournaments.

Annual referee registrations with U.S. Soccer topped 125,000 for the first time, with a final total in excess of 129,000 by the end of the calendar year. When the number of registered instructors, assessors and assignors are included, the registration total topped 136,000. Improving the process and the communication with our State Referee Administrators regarding registration will be a priority in the year ahead.

Training and educational materials developed in 2003 include Laws of the Game Made Easy, which is used in conjunction with the Grade 9, Recreational Youth Referee course. The Fouls and Misconduct video featuring FIFA Women’s World Cup 1999 was presented for use in the continued training of referees, as was the newly updated Advice to Referees.  In 2004, we will present new training materials that will include a Game Management presentation on CD by Esse Baharmast and Paul Tamberino. We are in the process of compiling a catalog of video clips of youth, adult amateur and professional games for use by USSF-registered instructors in the presentations they are creating to address specific concerns within the states.

Over the past year U.S. Soccer provided increased referee instructor and assessor support to our members. This included a total of 44 intermediate and advanced clinics across the country, as well as 11 Regional/Pro clinics, which are used to prepare state level referees for working top level games. USSF instructors and assessors were assigned to all US Youth Soccer and USASA regional and national events, as well as 10 Regional ODP camps. U.S. Soccer provided instructor and assessor support to the finals of U.S. Club Soccer and Super Y League.

We continue to use the academy concept to develop our top referees.  This past year we held 11 academies and have found that by bringing in Grade 7’s and some exceptional Grade 8’s to our less competitive academies we start developing top referees at an earlier age. The Regional and National events of our members provide opportunities for the early identification of referees with potential for moving up in grade and competence. U.S. Soccer will continue to provide as much instructor and assessor support for our members as we can staff.

For the first time the State Directors of Instruction and some of the Referee Department staff participated in a Coach/Referee Symposium hosted by US Youth Soccer.

We continued a close working relationship with the professional leagues, including making some adjustments to the coach/mentor assessment program for referees working in Major League Soccer. We will look to expand that program into the A-League for 2004, as well as look to establish the first Assessor Academy to ready some of our former national referees for the coach/mentor role. 

One of the highlights of the 2003 National Certification Clinic was the attendance of the MLS Coaches. It was first time that the referees and the coaches were given this opportunity to better understand the roles and concerns of each other. In the coming year, the captains of the MLS teams will be invited to participate in a similar role at the National Camp.

Also in 2003, the relocation of the FIFA Women’s World Cup called on U.S. Soccer referees to take a greater role.  Kari Seitz, Sharon Wheeler and Karalee Sutton were assigned to Women’s World Cup as a trio and were assigned to the first game, as well as a quarterfinal match. Sandra Hunt, Rachel Woo and Jennifer Bennett were assigned as fourth officials, with Woo having to decline because of knee surgery.

Overall U.S. referees were assigned to more than 200 international matches this past year. In addition to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, our referees participated in tournaments such as the Algarve Cup, Four Nations Cup in China, CONCACAF Gold Cup, CONCACAF Club Championships and the FIFA Under-20 World Championship.

U.S. Soccer referees also participated off the field, as Baharmast and Alfred Kleinaitis were used as instructors and assessors for FWWC ’03.  The Women’s World Cup was the third FIFA event of the year for both Baharmast and Kleinaitis, who had also worked at the Under-17 World Championship in Finland and at the Confederations Cup in France. In 2004, Baharmast and Hunt will join Kleinaitis and Vincent Maruo as FIFA Instructors. 

Although this is a brief overview of the U.S. Soccer’s Referee Department busy 2003, it wouldn’t be complete without thanking all of the State Referee Administrators, all members of the State Referee Committees, instructors, assessors and assignors and all of those state associations that offer support to the referee program. The National Program for Referee Development greatly appreciates the continued support.

For more information on the U.S. Soccer Referee Department, contact Carol McGuire at 312-528-1241 or