How do I Become a Soccer Referee?

Stacy Blumberg
Stacy Blumberg
Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.
Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.

Becoming a soccer referee requires a knowledge of and an interest in the game of soccer as well as a high level of physical fitness. If you meet this criteria, you can become a soccer referee for local organizations simply by taking a short training course and applying. For higher level positions, you will need additional refereeing experience.

Anyone who does not know about soccer should learn about the game before attempting to become a soccer referee. Learning about soccer can be accomplished by attending local matches and asking friends and family who know about soccer to explain the rules and nuances of the sport. Reading about soccer online and in books will provide further knowledge. It is a good idea to watch soccer games at a variety of levels, from local club matches to professional tournaments, to gain more insight into the game.

A soccer referee may blow a whistle to indicate violations of game rules.
A soccer referee may blow a whistle to indicate violations of game rules.

After you have a solid knowledge foundation about soccer and have watched matches of differing levels, you can begin applying to work as a referee. Local clubs and sports organizations often need referees to work at their soccer events. Typically, you will have to take a short course culminating with a test to prove you have sufficient knowledge. You should read the rules specific to the league you will be working with before beginning to work as a referee.

A soccer referee may use hand signals to indicate a ruling.
A soccer referee may use hand signals to indicate a ruling.

Soccer officiating requires a higher degree of physical fitness than other refereeing jobs. Referees must run up and down the field at the speed of play and often run several miles during each match. A rigorous running program is recommended for those who wish to become a soccer referee.

If you would like to become a soccer referee for schools, you will need some previous experience. Higher level and more competitive schools require a greater experience base. It is recommended that you first referee for elementary schools before attempting to work for high schools. Similarly, high school referee experience will be necessary before you apply to referee at the university level.

You must have a solid knowledge of soccer to become a referee.
You must have a solid knowledge of soccer to become a referee.

To become a soccer referee at the professional level, you will need years of experience working as a referee in schools and universities. Professional referee jobs are very competitive, so it is a good idea to build a network of contacts who are familiar with your previous experience and can help you to land a professional level job. The epitome of the soccer world is the World Cup run by FIFA (International Federation of Association Football). Only the top professional soccer referees in the world are considered to officiate at this event.

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    • Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.
      Soccer can be a very physically demanding sport.
    • A soccer referee may blow a whistle to indicate violations of game rules.
      A soccer referee may blow a whistle to indicate violations of game rules.
    • A soccer referee may use hand signals to indicate a ruling.
      A soccer referee may use hand signals to indicate a ruling.
    • You must have a solid knowledge of soccer to become a referee.
      You must have a solid knowledge of soccer to become a referee.
    • Soccer referees at elementary schools need to have experience and a good rapport with kids.
      Soccer referees at elementary schools need to have experience and a good rapport with kids.