How To Become A Professional Soccer (FIFA) Referee

How To Become A Professional Soccer Referee


Grassroots certification is just the first step on the road to a professional referee career.

There is a pathway that involves five stages from the grassroots level to FIFA level. Each level has different requirements for certification. 

Let’s look at how you progress from grassroots level referee to professional level referee.

To become a professional referee, you need to be a certified National referee or assistant referee that the Professional Referee Organisation (P.R.O.) has identified and evaluated as suitable to progress to professional level refereeing.

Becoming a professional referee involves time, experience, and hard work. Still, knowing the steps you need to get there will set you off in the right direction.

There are four steps to becoming a professional referee:

  1. Complete your grassroots level referee certification
  2. Complete the necessary qualifications to become a regional referee
  3. Complete the necessary qualifications to become a National referee
  4. Receive an invitation from the Professional Referee Organisation (P.R.O.) to become a professional referee.

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.

1. Complete Your Grassroots Level Referee Certification

We have already gone over how to become a grassroots level referee in the first section of this article. 

Becoming a referee at this level is the only way to achieving the goal of being a professional referee.

Professional referees rely on their years of previous experience to perform at the high level they need to as a professional. The time spent officiating youth and amateur soccer games is the foundation for the rest of their career.

If you have the opportunity to officiate grassroots soccer gain all you can from the experience.

2. Complete the Qualifications to Become a Regional Referee

Once a referee has become capable and confident refereeing grassroots level soccer, they can progress to the next level – Regional Referee.

A Regional referee can officiate in regional soccer events, competitive state soccer competitions, and even leagues.

Here are the requirements necessary to become a certified regional referee:

Age

18 year or more

Enrollment

Registration

Previous game experience

50 games as a referee
and 25 games as an assistant referee at the adult amateur level

Previous certification experience

Minimum of 3 consecutive years as a grassroots referee

Training

Regional referee courses and on-field experience

Safety and compliance

SafeSports trained
Safe and healthy playing environments
Background check 

Laws of the game update and test

Online-national test

Fitness test 

Sprint/interval test
(FIFA women’s referee test)
Male-category 1
Female- category 3

Practical evaluation

Minimum of 3 passing evaluations as a referee.
2 at the adult amateur level.
1 at the highest youth level.
The evaluation must be done by 3 different referee coaches.

Requirements for US Soccer Regional Referee License Certification

As you can see, the most significant differences to achieve this level of certification are:

  • experience on the field,
  • fitness tests,
  • and passing three evaluations.

Repeated Sprint Ability test (RSA) is the most common fitness test for referees, which tests sprint ability. The second is an interval test. Some optional tests you may encounter are the dynamic yo-yo test and intermittent yo-yo test.

3. Complete the Qualifications to Become a National Referee

After a minimum of two years as a regional referee, you may qualify to become a National Referee.

National referees can officiate national and professional games in the USL Championship, the NWSL, and any other league except MLS.

Here are the requirements necessary to become a certified national referee:

Enrollment

Selected by the national selection committee

Previous experience

100 games at adult amateur level
(50 as referee and 50 as assistant referee)

Previous certification experience

Minimum of 2 consecutive year as regional referee

Training

Attend and complete national camp

Safety and compliance

SafeSports trained
Safe and healthy playing environments
Background check

Laws of the game update and test

Online-national test

Fitness test

FIFA fitness test
(referee or AR gender-specific)
Category 1

Practical evaluation

Minimum of 3 passing national evaluation as referee or AR

Requirements for US Soccer National Referee License Certification

The most significant difference between the previous step and this one is that the Soccer national selection committee will invite a Regional referee to become a National referee.

The selection committee will invite a Regional referee to attend a National Camp. On successful completion of this camp, along with completing:

  • A National Match Official Video Test
  • A National Match Official Written Test  
  • A Fitness Test 
  • And Practical Evaluations,

a referee will become a qualified National referee.

Being a national referee is the final step before becoming a professional referee.

4. Receive an Invitation from the PRO To Become a Professional Referee.

After a minimum of two years as a National referee, a referee is eligible to be invited to become a professional referee.

Professional soccer referees can officiate games in any domestic competition, including M.L.S. They can also officiate a selection of international games.

Here are the requirements necessary to become a certified professional referee:

Enrollment

Selected by PRO

Previous experience

50 games as a referee
or 50 games as AR

Previous certification experience

Minimum of 2 years as national referee

Training

P.R.O. pre-season camp

Safety and compliance

SafeSports trained
Safe and healthy playing environments
Background check

Laws of the game update and test

Online-national test

Fitness test

FIFA fitness test

Practical evaluation

Passing P.R.O. assessment criteria

Requirements for Professional Soccer Referee Certification

The most interesting part about this final stage in becoming a professional referee is that professional referees are managed by an independent company –Professional Referee Organization (PRO).

The PRO will invite specific candidates to become professional referees. A referee’s selection is based on their performance and aptitude as a National Referee.

 

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