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Referee Development Program

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a referee?
What are the different Grades and Clinics like?
How do I know I am registered as a referee with USSF?
Am I registered for the current year?
What about the pre-printed registration forms?
How do I reregister?
How do I upgrade (advance) as a referee?
How do we host a clinic?
What do we need to host a clinic?
How do I handle misconduct toward a referee (Me!)?

How do I become a referee?

Some important points:
1. Knowledge of soccer is not required (most coaches will tell you that referees know nothing about soccer!).
2. While some previous playing, coaching or officiating experience is always helpful, no experience is required to become a soccer referee.
3. While there are age restrictions for the advanced Grades, there are no age requirements for the entry level Grades.
4. English is the preferred clinic language, but we do have Spanish clinics and can manage instruction in other languages as well.
5. You should be able to run with (not necessarily outrun) the players… get in shape to referee, not referee to get in shape.

To become a qualified referee, there are a few easy steps everyone must go through. The first is to attend a mandatory classroom training session. These "Entry Level Clinics" are offered in many locations around the state each year, most often during the summer and fall months. Eight-hour clinics are offered as one or two day events; sixteen-hour clinics are often held as either weekend courses (Saturday and Sunday) or weekday courses (3-5 weekday nights) or a combination (Friday night, Saturday, Sunday afternoon).

At the conclusion of the instructional classes a written examination will be given to all who have completed the course. The examination is 100 objective (True-False, Multiple Choice) questions. Candidates must get at least 75 correct to pass the test.

The fee to attend any clinic is $20. United States Soccer Federation (USSF) registration is $20 or $25 depending on Grade. Another expense is the uniform package (shirt, shorts, socks, shoes and referee equipment). Many uniform manufacturers and retail stores offer a money-saving starter package.

If you would like to become a referee, contact your local District or Area Director of Instruction for information about upcoming clinics. You can also check out the clinic schedule to see what's happening in your area.

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What are the different Grades and Clinics like?

USSF has authorized several entry level referee grades depending upon the interests of the candidate. The grades and their clinic requirements are:

Grade 8: Referee
The Grade 8 Referee is a fully qualified soccer official who can act as a Referee or Assistant Referee on youth games of all sizes and ages, although they usually start out with the younger age groups and advance based on experience and skill. This advancement is normally accompanied by an advancement in Grade as well.

The Grade 8 Referee clinic (often called the Entry Level Clinic) is a 16-hour course. The intended use is the training of referees in the skills necessary for managing and conducting all youth level matches. Candidates are required to attend all sessions to be eligible to take the written examination; if a session is missed at one clinic, it may be taken at another.

Normally, several different instructors will teach during the clinic. The course is comprehensive, and covers everything from the size of the ball to who calls the coin toss before overtime. Besides just covering the Laws of the Game, the course also covers the history of soccer and refereeing, the structure of organized (FIFA) soccer, why the Laws were made in the first place, and how the referee should apply and enforce the Laws.

Grade 9: Recreational
Grade 9 courses are for candidates wishing to referee full-sided (11v11) games, but only at the recreational level of age groups Under-14 and younger. Grade 9 Referees usually do not travel out of area.

One of the 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, this course lasts 8 hours over either one or two days.

Recreational Youth Referee to Referee Bridge
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 .Grade 9 candidates must be registered for one year prior to taking this course. The instruction from this course will provide the skills necessary for properly managing soccer matches at the youth level and higher. It is also intended as a basis for developing officials to move to higher levels of the game.

Grade 10: Linesman
(Eliminated as of January 1, 2004)

Grade 11: Associate Referee
(Eliminated as of January 1, 2004)

Grade 12: Assistant Referee
This Grade is intended for individuals who are interested in officiating the line at adult (amateur) matches. Selected modules from the State, intermediate and/or entry level training course manuals are utilized for the 8-hour clinic.

General
The cost for any clinic is $20.00 per participant. The fee covers the cost of the instructors, booklets, and logistics for the clinic. There is no minimum age for participants, but it is important to understand that this is intense instruction over a very short period of time and it may be difficult for younger participants.

At the conclusion of the instructional classes a written examination will be given to all who have completed the course. The examination is 100 objective (True-False, Multiple Choice) questions and candidates must get at least 75 correct to pass the test. Candidates who score less than 75 may audit clinic sessions and/or take the exam again at any of the Entry Level Clinics at no additional cost.

Candidates who pass the exam will be given a registration form for registration with USSF. There is an additional fee to register with USSF that must be paid at the time of registration and again annually to maintain USSF registration status. The current fees (subject to change at the discretion of USSF) are:
Grade 8: Referee - $25
Grade 9: Recreational - $20
Grade 12: Assistant - $20

Some referee or playing associations will pay your fees. If this is the case, then they should have a representative present at the clinic to pay all fees. If they are not, the candidate is responsible for the clinic and registration fees.

Interested applicants should contact the person whose name is listed for that course. Because the clinics are intense and streamlined, class sizes are kept small.

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How do I know I am registered as a referee with USSF?

You register with USSF through the STSR Referee Development Program. When your registration form is completed and accepted and approved by the STSR State Referee Administrator (SRA), you are considered registered with USSF.

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Am I registered for the current year?

Referee Development Program registration information can be accessed on this page.

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What about the pre-printed registration forms?

The pre-printed USSF registration forms are no longer used by STSR. Registration is handled through the online clinics page. Should you have any questions, please contact the SRA.

Registration procedures are available for Referees, Assessors, Instructors and Assignors.

If you have a question about your registration either contact your D/ADR or the SRA.

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How do I reregister?

All USSF registered Referee Grades are required to complete a 5-hour recertification clinic and pass a test (37 correct answers out of 50 objective questions) before being permitted to reregister.

When you go to your recertification clinic, you will be given a registration form to complete, then and there. (If you have received your pre-printed registration, bring it with you.)

All fees will be collected at the clinic - $20.00 clinic fee plus the registration fee:
$20.00 for Recreational and Assistant Referees, Grades 9 and 12,
$25.00 for Referees, Grades 7 and 8,
$40.00 for State Referees, Grades 5 and 6.

Your clinic results (if you pass the test) will be recorded on your registration form along with the fees collected.

The signed registration form, clinic fee and registration fee will be collected and sent to the District/Area Director of Registration (D/ADR) immediately.

The D/ADR will process the forms and send the registration forms and fees to the SRA.

The SRA will process the registration and forward it to national.

If you have to retake the test, the instructor will give you your registration form and a clinic attendance form to take to your next testing period. When you pass the test, give the clinic attendance form to the instructor along with your registration form. Since the clinic fee has already been collected, the only additional fee is for USSF registration.

Some referee or playing associations will pay your fees. If this is the case, then they should have a representative present at the clinic to pay all fees. If they are not, the referee is responsible for the registration and clinic fees.

If you choose not to register at the clinic, send your registration form and the clinic attendance form to your D/ADR.

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How do I upgrade (advance) as a referee?

The decision to referee soccer can be rewarding and fulfilling. One can reap many benefits at all levels of officiating. To choose to officiate at a high level of competition is a "Career Choice." If a referee wants to progress through the various grades, which correspond to the level of game competition, he/she should plan for the work and time required to rise through the ranks. The higher the progression the greater the time requirement, planning and commitment.

The normal progression plan is from a basic Referee up to a National Referee, and for some very few to International Referee. The Grades in order of progression are:
Grade 8: Referee Class 2
Grade 7: Referee Class 1
Grade 6: State Referee Class 2
Grade 5: State Referee Class 1
Grade 4: National Referee
Grade 3: National Referee (International Panel Candidate)
Grade 2: International Assistant Referee
Grade 1: International Referee

Some information is required to complete your upgrade. The STSR Handbook contains the criteria for upgrading as does the USSF Administrative Handbook. All requirements must be met prior to you applying for upgrade.

Once you have completed all the requirements for upgrade, forward all your information and registration to your Area Registration Administrator (ARA) for 8 to 7 upgrade. The ARA will forward it to the SRA for approval. Referees applying for upgrade to 6 or 5 must send their material and registration directly to the SRA. Upgrades to higher levels are by invitation only.

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How do we host a clinic?

First select the type of clinic you wish to host. This should be based on the needs of your association and referee pool. Then select a date (or dates) and location.

At least 30 days before your organization wishes to have the clinic, contact the STSR State Director of Instruction (SDI). At that time he will need a list of proposed dates and times, a location (with street address) and a contact person for the clinic. After a review of this information, you will receive confirmation of your clinic.

Once confirmation is received, you may announce it and begin accepting applicants. This information will also be posted on the STSR Web site. You may wish collect the fees from the candidates ahead of the class to insure their participation.

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What do we need to host a clinic?

If your organization wishes to sponsor a clinic, you will need:
1. A minimum of 20 candidates to a maximum of 40 candidates. The clinic fee is $20 per candidate. (Sponsors willing to guarantee the minimum clinic fee of $400 may waive the minimum attendance requirement.)
2. A classroom atmosphere - desks or tables and chairs for all participants to be able to take notes and the test.
3. A screen or other suitable white space for use by instructors; a chalk board or dry erasable board; a TV and VCR are desirable but not required.
4. Adult Supervision for minors during the breaks and lunch periods. Instructors are not intended to be chaperones.

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How do I handle misconduct toward a referee (Me!)?

There are two types of misconduct toward game officials (referees, assistant referees or fourth officials), abuse and assault. See the United States Soccer Federation Policy Manual, Policy 531-9 (was 3041) or the Referee Administrative Handbook, Policy 531-9 (was 3041) (pdf file) for a full description.

Abuse and Assault do happen, even to experienced referees. If such misconduct is to be stamped out, referees must follow a sensible and consistent course of action that will enable their State Associations to punish offenders, and to discourage potential offenders from such acts. A referee should react to misconduct directed toward him/her in a manner that will permit administration and enforcement agencies to do their jobs. The STSR Referee Handbook has instructions on dealing with such misconduct.

It is important for the referee to remember that any such misconduct is not his/her fault! There is no excuse for a player, coach, or spectator resorting to abuse, threats, or physical attack, no matter how upset he/she is with the referee. Such actions cannot be tolerated and must be reported!

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Last modified: April 23, 2004