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What does a Soccer Referee do?

By Matthew F.
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A soccer referee is the person who presides over a soccer game. Most soccer referees officiate soccer matches on the side while a distinct few officiate full-time for the international games. Every game the soccer referee presides over issues him or her the full authority to enforce any or all the laws of the game. In regards to the final score, the soccer referee has the final say on any decision during the game.

Every soccer match consists of one soccer referee and two assistant referees. While it is not a typical occurrence, a fourth official could preside over the game. In 2006, the International Federation of Associated Football, or FIFA, instituted the right to use a fifth official for more important games such as a World Cup championship game.

During the 1950s, soccer referees used to wear blazers instead of uniforms. Different leagues such as the Premier League in the United Kingdom have worn green, yellow or black during the last 20 years. In international events sponsored by FIFA, soccer referees have their own choice of five different colors: black, blue, green, red, and yellow.

The referee has numerous powers handed down to them to enforce during the match. Referees are allowed to stop the soccer match either temporarily or for good at any time if he feels the laws of the game have been breached. A soccer referee can briefly stop play if a player is seriously injured and needs to be carted off the field for medical issues. In regards to a slightly injured player, the referee can allow play to continue unless the injury becomes more serious. If a team is playing or acting irresponsibly, the soccer referee has the authority to expel one or all members of the team from the surrounding area.

As the acting official for the soccer match, the soccer referee has numerous duties he or she must perform which include enforcing the laws of the game as handed down by the governing body of the league. Before all matches, each referee must make sure any soccer ball which is capable of being used for game play meets the requirements of the league. The referee must act as timekeeper for the match and control the flow of the match. It was not until recently that soccer referees used whistles to indicate the beginning or restart of play or the stoppage of play due to injury, infringement or stoppage of the half.

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Discussion Comments
By SarahSon — On Nov 18, 2011

Like most referees, a soccer referee really has to be in good shape. They are doing a lot of running up and down the field without much break.

My brother belongs to a soccer referee association and has worked his way up to a college referee.

At this level, the pay is pretty good and the competition is stiff. This also involves a lot of travel, so he is on the road quite a bit.

A love for the sport is how he became interested in becoming a soccer referee. Both of his sons are also on soccer teams in their age brackets, so I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't stay in the family for a long time.

By sunshined — On Nov 17, 2011

When my son was 14 he went through a Saturday training class to become a soccer referee.

He was really excited about this because he was too young to work at any other kind of job, and this was something he would actually make some money at.

He would only be referring soccer games between young kids, but this was a perfect situation for him.

The kids were great and a lot of fun to watch, but the parents are the ones he had the most trouble with. Most of the kids really didn't understand much of how the game was even played!

His soccer referee gear consisted of a black and white striped shirt, black shorts, black socks and shoes, and of course the whistle.

He only did this for a few seasons, but it was really a great experience for him in working with people and making a little extra income.

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