New U.S. Soccer Referee Pathway Expands Access and Opportunity for All Referees
CHICAGO (June 13, 2019) – U.S. Soccer and its members will launch a new Referee Pathway on July 1. The new pathway consolidates the current nine grade certification program into five license levels. The pathway design aims to clarify a referee’s journey from grassroots to the highest levels of the game, lower the barriers of entry for anyone wishing to participate as a referee and offer all referees more mobility and flexibility in their development.The change comes after an extensive multi-year review of the current referee landscape by U.S. Soccer and its Members. In the course of the review, it became clear that a more streamlined pathway was necessary to provide clarity and provide more opportunities for referee participation and self-improvement.
Starting in July, U.S. Soccer will publish a series of profiles outlining the tasks and responsibilities of a referee at every level of competition. The five license levels of the new pathway are based on those profiles.
The redesigned Referee Pathway will be supported by the new U.S. Soccer Learning Center and U.S. Soccer’s first online referee course. The Online Grassroots Referee Course serve as an integral part of the new Grassroots Referee License. Course registration and administration will be conducted through the Learning Center.
New referees will certify under the new standards beginning on July 1. Current referees who hold an active certification when the new Referee Pathway goes into effect will retain their current certification and continue officiating as they have been for the rest of the registration year. All current referees will be able to transition seamlessly into the new Pathway to continue their journey as a match official.
Grassroots Referee (formerly Grades 9, 8 and 7)
A referee’s journey begins at the Grassroots level. U.S. Soccer Grassroots Referees are qualified to officiate competitive, small-sided or recreational youth matches and amateur adult matches.
The U.S. Soccer Grassroots License has both an online and in-person component. Grassroots Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committees.
Regional Referee (formerly Grades 6 and 5)
U.S. Soccer Regional Referees are qualified to officiate competitive state competitions, regional events and professional leagues including NPSL and USL League Two.
Regional Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committees.
For information about registering for a Regional Referee Course, contact your State Referee Committee.
National Referee and National Assistant Referee (Formerly Grades 4 and 3)
U.S. Soccer National Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate national and professional matches in any league except MLS. This includes the USL Championship and NWSL.
National Referees and Assistant Referees are selected and certified directly by U.S. Soccer.
Professional - P.R.O.
P.R.O. Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate matches in any domestic competition, including MLS, as well as certain international matches.
P.R.O. is an independent company, supported by U.S. Soccer, that administers professional referee programs in North America. Candidates are selected by P.R.O. based on performance at the National Referee and Assistant Referee level.
FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate international matches at the highest level, including FIFA World Cup competitions.
This elite group of referees and assistant referees is recommended by the National Referee Committee, nominated by U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors and approved by FIFA.