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Addressing Our Referee Shortage

After reading James Scaglione’s article “A Constructive Response.’ An overwhelming number of concerned individuals sent their thoughts/ideas on retaining and gaining referees. Here are a few  …   

Maybe if USSF spent more money on training new refs and less on training the higher-level refs, we’d have sufficient retention that the decrease in training would be made up for by an increased number of candidates for those higher-level slots.

In my ever so humble opinion, we don’t have a referee recruiting problem. We can generally find enough new kids to sign up. We have a referee retention problem. USUALLY, the problem isn’t filling slots for recreation matches. The problem is filling slots ideal for referees with 2-3 years of experience.

As someone who uses the two-person system regularly for NFHS matches, I agree that a two-person system should only be used in an emergency for USSF matches. I think depending on it as a short-term fix would be counterproductive.

1) Experienced referees would have to adjust and, as a result, make more mistakes.

2) Referee is farther from the play, leading to more criticism (and missed calls).

3) Coaches would automatically think it’s inferior. All of these would invite more criticism and hurt recruiting and retention.

We can do whatever we want as referees. However, the situation will not improve until coaches, parents, and administrators are adequately trained.  


Matt Plodinec

Like every other employer, “soccer” faces the challenge of retaining good employees while adding to the pool.

1) Increase base pay with performance- and experience-based increases.

2) Hold clubs responsible for fan misbehavior with fines, suspensions, etc., up to and including “closed” and suspended matches.

3) Improved referee education, including remedial dedication for those officials who fail to meet specific baseline standards. Frankly, the ongoing shortage of referees should not be an excuse for tolerating poor officiating. 

Rich Jablonski

A great, enjoyable, first-class learning experience by the sapient INSTRUCTORS for these interested new ‘soon-to-be’ Officials. Referee-Trainers must train/guide/lead/motivate these beginning Referees for a sufficient period in the Referee Course to become a fully registered Referee!

And when the Instructors believe that they are pretty capable of Officiating (namely in the Areas of Fitness, Knowledge of Laws & Mechanics, Communication Skills, Positioning, and, most important, Confidence in one’s Decisions),

Then it is imperative that the Referee is linked up to an experienced/same MENTOR for at least a year (via an exchange of Conversations in person and on the Telephone, and at the Game itself) for this DUO to frequently keep in contact with each other, (whenever needed for Advice and keeping up the Referee’s Spirit), to keep that Progress – Improvement – Learning continuing always! —-OR — as the AR or as an ‘in-vivo’ Observer in their weekend Soccer match (in which the Observer will be paid for one’s devoted Service)

This Concept would enormously help in maintaining Referees for a long period-of-time, (with the Referee having FUN and HAPPINESS also in this Game-of-Soccer, I honestly believe) ………. regardless of some of these unknowing/uneducated Spectators/Parents who constantly yell pernicious words at these young Referee Officials)!

Austin Gomez

Personally, a 2-man crew does not sound suitable for some games. Those can be used at the high school level but not at the high youth level.

It is easy:

1. Compensation attracts, and the more $ is offered, the more refs will work.

2. Serious punishments for those at fault of referee abuse towards 15-18-year old.

3. Keep teams, leagues, and coaches accountable for the safety and well-being of the refs.

Trust me; this can and has to change!

Hector Hernandez

As ridiculous as it sounds, when I played high school soccer, the home team coach served as the Referee in England unless it was a cup game. A neutral referee was appointed in cup games only. Not sure if that is unreasonable. Much of the time, the assistant coaches served as the linesmen. Not every time – but sometimes.


Jeff Tipping

As ridiculous as it sounds, Tipp, I remember having to play without referees in our League Games & We officiated and behaved ourselves much better than with a licensed referee in charge.  Self-control worked amazingly well 🙂 

Koach Karl

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