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Referee Program

Referees come in all shapes, sizes, genders, ethnic groups and economic tax levels. But the one thing that every referee has in common is their passion for, and knowledge of the game of soccer.

Becoming a great referee takes hard work and dedication to the game. For referees that are willing to go the extra mile and work hard enough they can eventually become a national referee, a FIFA linesman, or a FIFA referee–but those kinds of referees are few and far between.

The United States Soccer Federation National Program for Referee Development has developed a series of instructional manuals and other material for the certification and training of referees. All material follows a consistent approach to teaching and the use of educational terminology. The current status of available instructional material is summarized below: In addition to the training course material, various video tapes, overhead presentations and field exercises are available as supplemental material. Nearly all training material is available to instructors through email or is downloadable from the USSF website: Click here to go to the USSF Referee website.

Becoming a USSF Referee (Grade 8): A person must attend a 15-hour entry level referee clinic and two hours of outdoor training. At the end of the clinic, the candidate must pass a written test. The candidate is then registered as a Grade 8 official and is given the USSF badge. The fees for registration are set for USSF. The clinics are scheduled by leagues, local referee associations or clubs. To find out when the next referee clinics will be given in your area, contact your State Referee Administrator.

Yearly Registration Renewal: All referees are required to take five hours of in-service training, a written test and assessment (depending on the grade) each year.

To become a National Referee: All Grade 5 referees seeking to upgrade to the National Level must do the following:

  •  Must be a US citizen or permanent resident.
  •  Announce candidacy by December of the year prior to being accepted as a National Referee Candidate.
  •  Fulfill the assessment requirements.
  •  Attend any required clinics specified by the national office.

How and Where to Register as a Referee 
You must be registered through the State Referee Administrator and you must register in the state you reside, work, or do your primary refereeing in that state.

In order for a referee to be upgraded, the referee must have met the time in grade requirement stated in the "Criteria for Certification and Upgrading" manual.

Grade 7
You must have refereed 75 games and been an assistant referee at 25 games. You must complete five hours of USSF intermediate level training and have passed the written test by at least 75 percent of the score. You must also pass an assessment in a U19 or higher level game. 

Grade 6 
You must have refereed 100 games and been an assistant referee on 25 games that were all U19 or higher level games. In addition, you must take 19 hours of state referee training, pass the written test with a minimum of 75 percent of the total score and pass two adult games assessments. 

Grade 5
You must referee 150 games and been an assistant referee for 50 games. 50 of the total games must be adult games. You must pass seven hours of in-service training and pass two assessments as a referee and one as an assistant referee in adult top level games or higher.


Training and Certification

Assistant Referee Grade 12
Training modules for referees who are interested in only officiating the line at adult matches. Selected modules from the state, intermediate and/or entry level training course manuals are utilized.

Associate Referee Grade 11 
(Eliminated as of January 1, 2004 – see note below)

Linesman Referee Grade 10 
(Eliminated as of January 1, 2004 – see note below)

Recreational Referee Grade 9
Designed as one of two entry level courses for use in the training of referees in skills necessary for properly managing and conducting recreational leagues of age groups U-14 and younger.

Referee Bridge Course 8
This course should be used to train recreational referees (Grade 9) who want to upgrade to Grade 8 to begin working competitive youth games of all levels (see note below).

Referee Grade 8
This successful "entry level" course, completed in 1992, was the first to be developed in the current series of instructional manuals. The intended use is the training of referees in the skills necessary for managing and conducting youth level matches.

Referee Grade 7
This intermediate level referee training course is designed to train referees and assistant referees to properly manage and conduct matches at the youth and lower amateur levels. The manual covers topics which could not be treated in depth in the entry level course. The course modules were prepared by a group of contributors with advanced instructional and refereeing skills.

State Referee Grade 6
Intended for training referees and assistant referees to manage and conduct matches at the upper amateur levels. The course is designed to be an extension, and to provide more in-depth coverage, of topics in the entry (Grade 8) and intermediate (Grade 7) course. Contributors to this manual included instructors with international and national refereeing experience and high levels of instructional expertise.

Advanced Level Training Program for Referees Grade 5, 4 and 3
Instructional training program designed to foster and encourage development and refinement of refereeing skills required to manage and conduct matches at the professional and highest amateur levels. The course is likely to be based on a variety of instruction approaches which may include written video and computer based visually interactive material. It is anticipated that international input will be sough from other highly developed instruction programs.

In-Service Course Manual
Manual containing lesson plans which outline possible approaches for in-service training at all levels. Instructors are encouraged to use plans as guides to develop presentations and visual material.

Note: Referees who registered as grade 10 or 11 referees in 2002 or 2003 may register as recreational referees (9) after completing the renewal requirements specified for that grade. Other options available for grade 10 and 11 referees are the Referee Bridge Course and the standard Entry Level Referee Training Course.

For more information visit the US Soccer Referee website - click here.