Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

How to Become a Soccer Referee

Soccer Line Referee

Soccer referees play a crucial role in ensuring fair play. If you have the passion and the skills, becoming a soccer referee can be a rewarding opportunity. In this article, we will walk you through the steps to becoming a soccer referee and maximizing your potential.

Referee Training Courses

One of the first steps to becoming a soccer referee is to enroll in a training course. The training course requirements may vary by country, but passing an exam is typically necessary. While it may require some initial studying and effort, the process is straightforward.

In the United States, options like the Referee Grade 8 and Recreational Referee Grade 9 are available. The Referee Grade 8 is the most popular choice and provides a good starting point for beginners. Once you pass the course and register, you will receive your referee badge, which is required for official matches.

Moving Up the Ranks as a Soccer Referee

Referee Noob

Every soccer referee starts from humble beginnings. Even those who officiate at the highest levels once started by calling games with just a handful of spectators. Building a reputation and gaining experience at different levels are key to moving up the ranks.

Part-time referees often officiate at local clubs or high school level matches. There is always a demand for referees, so keep applying and seize every opportunity to gain experience. At this level, there are different tiers that may affect the pay per game.

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Becoming a high-ranking official in top leagues and tournaments is highly competitive. Performance at lower levels plays a significant role in securing these coveted positions. As the stakes get higher, competition intensifies, but with dedication and skill, you can make progress in your refereeing career.

Responsibilities of Different Soccer Referees

Soccer Referees

Soccer matches can be officiated by one or multiple referees, depending on the level of play and the league’s budget. In games with multiple officials, there is usually a head referee responsible for timekeeping, penalty calls, and managing the game. They may also write a match report for high-level games.

Assistant referees, also known as linesmen, assist the head referee. They make calls regarding ball possession and offsides. When there are three referees, each assistant takes a touchline. They use flags to quickly and efficiently communicate their calls.

In some cases, a fourth official may be introduced to assist the other referees with administrative tasks like substitutions and equipment monitoring. Their role ensures a smooth flow of the game.

Necessary Equipment to Become a Soccer Referee

Soccer Referees

To become a soccer referee, you’ll need essential equipment that every referee requires. Adhering to a standard look allows for adaptability and professionalism in any game you officiate. Here are the essentials:


Referee jerseys come in various colors to differentiate referees from players. It is recommended to have multiple colors such as gold, black, green, red, and blue to match the teams playing. This helps ensure clear identification on the field.


Referees use flags to make specific calls during the game. The design of the flags is generally standardized, but individual preferences may vary. Flags are available in checkered, diamond, or solid patterns. Check with your league for any specific flag preferences.

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Whistles are an essential tool for referees to control the game and communicate with players. Popular whistle brands like Fox and Sonik offer various designs, including classic and finger grip styles. It’s advisable to have two whistles in case of emergencies.


Referees need a watch to accurately track game time and add any necessary stoppage time. Look for watches with stop and start functions. Brands like Casio, Champion, and Spintso offer high-quality referee watches tailored to your needs.

Can You Make a Career as a Soccer Referee?

Like any sport, those who reach the top of their profession have the opportunity to pursue a career as a soccer referee. However, it can be challenging for referees at recreational, high school, college, or lower-level professional leagues to support themselves without additional income streams.

Referees at the youth level can expect around $50 per game, which provides decent supplementary income. The earnings increase significantly as referees reach the professional level, with some top leagues in Europe paying referees over $5000 per game.

Physical demands and age restrictions are important considerations for referees. While FIFA abandoned the maximum age limit of 45 in 2016, referees still undergo fitness tests to ensure they can perform at the highest level. Few referees continue officiating past the age of 50 due to the physical demands of the job.


Q: Is becoming a soccer referee a challenging career choice?

A: Becoming a soccer referee requires dedication and effort, but it can be a rewarding career choice for those passionate about the sport. Building experience and reputation is key to advancing in the field.

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Q: How much can a soccer referee earn?

A: Referee earnings vary based on the level of play and the league. Referees at the youth level can expect around $50 per game, while top-level referees in major leagues can earn thousands of dollars per game.

Q: What equipment do I need to become a soccer referee?

A: Essential equipment includes jerseys in various colors, flags, whistles, and watches. Having a professional and standardized look adds to your credibility as a referee.


Becoming a soccer referee requires passion, dedication, and a love for the game. By enrolling in training courses, gaining experience, and investing in the necessary equipment, you can embark on an exciting career in soccer officiating. Remember, starting early and building a solid foundation will set you up for success. Embrace the challenges and rewards that come with being a soccer referee. Movin993