Five Things To Know About The New Referee Pathway


Starting July 1, 2019 a new structure for referees nationwide aiming to reach the highest levels of the game. No longer certified in one of nine referee grades, officials will now progress through five referee licenses. Here’s five things you need to know about the new Referee Pathway.


Starting with the 2020 registration cycle (July 1, 2019), U.S. Soccer will move from nine referee grades to five referee licenses. The new framework came from a collective effort to streamline progression through grade levels as well as provide standardized requirements for referees at all levels.

Current referees’ grade levels will transition seamlessly to the new license levels. Current Grade 7, 8 and 9 referees will become Grassroots referees. Grade 5 and 6 referees will become Regional referees. Grade 3 and 4 referees will now be National referees while Grade 1 and 2 referees will be FIFA Referees.

The consolidation of referee grades into license levels will not impact the quality or quantity of games assigned to a referee.



The new Referee Pathway was born out of an extensive multi-year review of the referee landscape led by U.S. Soccer and its Members. The investigation concluded that a clear and aligned pathway for referees was needed.

This new Referee Pathway not only provides a clearer understanding on the process to become a referee, but it will also create more opportunities for referee participation and development. Starting in July, U.S. Soccer will release a series of profiles for referees at all five stages of the pathway. The new pathway license levels are based off of these profiles, created by U.S. Soccer and its members.


 Alongside the release of the new Referee Pathway, U.S. Soccer will launch a new Grassroots Online Referee Course on the U.S. Soccer Learning Center. These resources will better support referees on the field as well as referee administrators off the field.

Referees will be able to create free profiles within the Learning Center and State Referee Committees can use the Learning Center as an administrative tool at no cost.


A condensed pathway will provide more opportunities for development and improvement at every level of refereeing. The new Referee Pathway was designed to facilitate upward movement, with clear, nationally-recognized standards and requirements to be met in order to progress.


U.S. Soccer will launch the Online Grassroots Referee Course alongside the new Referee Pathway on July 1, providing an accessible platform to grow the base of Pathway. The course will be hosted on the new U.S. Soccer Learning Center, a comprehensive digital resource for the Federation’s education and licensing programs.

The Online Grassroots Referee Course will serve as a digital component for the Grassroots Referee license, allowing in-person courses to focus on practical on-field learning.