REferee FREQUENTLY Asked Questions

Why are referees not including in the Phase I AND PHASE II Grassroots Soccer Recommendation GuideS?

During Phase I and Phase II, only small group training with a maximum of nine players and one coach is recommended. In those training sessions, referees are not required personnel. In order to limit the amount of participants and encourage social distancing, using officials or referees at those sessions is not recommended.

What can I do as a referee during Phase I AND PHASE II?

Events and courses that U.S. Soccer directly plans, manages, or organizes are postponed through June 30th. Before July 1, State Referee Committees may schedule and conduct their own referee courses and training, so long as it is permitted by state and local guidelines. A “Return to Educate” recommendation guide will be distributed to the referee community at that time to help shape what those courses should look like going forward. 

What rules and regulations are U.S. Soccer mandating in the return to play process?

Rules and regulations for returning to play will be governed by the requirements of the state and local authorities relative to group size allowances. U.S. Soccer is offering guidelines and best practices for its Members to support them at this time. U.S. Soccer has organized return to play considerations into five phases from Phase 0 (no organized activities; stay home) through to Phase IV (no playing restrictions related to COVID-19). Clubs have been recommended to adhere to COVID-19 recommendations including: safety protocols to limit exposure, contact tracing, checking for symptoms of COVID-19, sanitizing equipment and facilities, and social distancing in regards to physical interactions for players, coaches, and referees to ensure the safest possible environment.

Will there be any testing complete prior to returning to play?

U.S. Soccer has outlined recommendations for medical clearance to return to play for individuals with pre-existing conditions, individuals who have experienced known COVID-19 exposure within the past 14 days, for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and for individuals experiencing any illness at this time. Please refer to the Play On Grassroots Soccer Recommendation Guide for details. At this time, participants with no known exposure to COVID-19 will not be required to provide written confirmation of COVID-19 negative status from a physician or test. Testing may become an additional variable in decreasing risk for COVID-19; however, accessibility and costs for the wider public need to be considered and are deferred to federal, state and local regulations. Other guidance for return to play will be determined based on requirements from state and local authorities’ guidelines relative to group size allowances and health officials’ clearance for opening recreational activity facilities. 

Typically we will share shirts with our referee crew if there is a jersey conflict, how should we handle this?

We highly recommend that you bring your own equipment and clothing to use to reduce risk of possible transmission of the virus. To reduce the risk of uniform conflicts, we recommend referees wear gold referee uniforms. If a referee has any spare uniform colors, it is recommended that you keep them on hand to prepare for any conflicts.

How should the ref crew huddle and team check-in take place to maintain social distancing?

Follow social distancing guidelines of maintaining a distance of at least six feet in huddles or team check-ins whenever possible. Additionally, as this is a non-physical activity moment all referees, players and coaches should be wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing.

Do I need to stay away from all players by six feet during the game? What if this comprises me from being in the correct position?

As the game is played in a large space maintaining social distancing when possible is recommended understanding there will be brief moments in the play of the game where distancing will be challenged. At all times, assuring your and the player safety and the ability to make the proper calls is paramount. As a referee, establishing a culture of safety rather than enforcement is a good approach.

Am I allowed to blow my whistle?

We would recommend you bring your own whistle to use and disinfect it often, a minimum before and after use for a match. Sharing of whistles should not occur. U.S. Soccer partner OSI sells electronic whistles, as well.

Do I need to wear any PPE?

Wearing PPE is not required, U.S. Soccer will not prohibit the wearing of PPE during play. During Phase I we do recommend coaches/staff/referees/athletes wear PPE. We recommend all PPE be disposed or thoroughly cleaned after each training session and/or be either new or clean for each training session.

Face coverings should be breathable and can consist of cotton or wick type material and follow CDC guidelines. During match play, a face covering is not mandatory so as to not restrict play. If a referee wishes to wear a face covering it should not impede their vision or impose any risk to self or others. During pregame or huddles and non-physical activity moments outside of the match face coverings should be worn.

Will the assistant referees be close to parents or spectators on the side of the field?

Parents and spectators should be minimum six feet back from the sidelines and wearing a face covering, as well as practicing social distancing. Additionally, no parent or spectator should attend if they express any symptoms of illness. If six feet of space does not exist consider other options including viewing from a vehicle, streaming games to homes and other options to maintain social distancing. 

Should I maintain social distance in order to issue a yellow or red card?

Yes, when issuing a yellow or red card maintain social distance as best as possible.

What are best practices to sanitize any cooldown equipment (foam rollers, etc.)?

Sanitizing equipment regularly (before and after use) using disinfectant wipes, or disinfectant (germicide/virucidal) spray (i.e. Clorox wipes, with at least 60% alcohol, 1:10 bleach solution) is highly recommended. 

Is it safe to attend referee classroom sessions or educational opportunities?

Currently we would recommend that you adhere to all WHO, CDC and Local Government Guidelines regarding social gatherings, and activity. Maintaining social distancing wherever possible, avoiding close contact with others. Activities involving high levels of collective group interaction should be avoided where possible and kept to an absolute minimum. Any educational opportunities that can be moved to virtual platforms should do so to avoid unnecessary contact with others. 

What should I do I believe I’ve been exposed to or am showing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you believe you have been exposed, begin self-quarantine for 14 days. Communicate with your referee group and anyone who you have been in close contact with to inform them as well.

If you begin showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and begin self-quarantine measures. Call your primary care physician to follow up with them regarding your symptoms and availability of testing. Follow their guidance on treating your symptoms and when you should seek more advanced medical care.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include: cough, sinus congestion, headache, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of >100.4, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19 include: cough, sinus congestion, headache, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever of >100.4, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting.

How should referees facilitate social distancing during set plays?

Set plays such as free kicks and corner kicks will happen during competition. After making the call, please do your best to eliminate any delays with set plays in order to minimize the amount of time players are in close distance of each other. Consider talking to captains and coaches about this before the game begins. 

Are players allowed to celebrate with their teammates after scoring a goal? 

Yes, players are still allowed to celebrate following a goal. However, U.S. Soccer recommends that they do so while refraining from hugging and high fiving. Instead, teams are encouraged to find ways to celebrate a goal while maintaining proper social distancing.