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Referee Pathway

What Is The Referee Pathway?

Starting with the 2020 registration cycle (July 1, 2019), U.S. Soccer will move from nine referee grades to five referee licenses. The new framework came from a collective effort to streamline progression through grade levels as well as provide standardized requirements for referees at all levels.

Current referees’ grade levels will transition seamlessly to the new license levels. Current Grade 7, 8 and 9 referees will become Grassroots referees. Grade 5 and 6 referees will become Regional referees. Grade 3 and 4 referees will now be National referees while Grade 1 and 2 referees will be FIFA Referees.

The consolidation of referee grades into license levels will not impact the quality or quantity of games assigned to a referee.


Grassroots Referees 

 (FORMERLY GRADES 9, 8 AND 7) A referee’s journey begins at the Grassroots level. U.S. Soccer Grassroots Referees are qualified to officiate competitive, small-sided or recreational youth matches and amateur adult matches.

The U.S. Soccer Grassroots License has both an online and in-person component. Grassroots Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committe.

Grassroots recertification


Regional Referee

(FORMERLY GRADES 6 AND 5) U.S. Soccer Regional Referees are qualified to officiate competitive state competitions, regional events and professional leagues including NPSL and USL League Two.

Regional Referees will register for courses and be certified through State Referee Committees. In  Indiana, the online coursework is done through the US Soccer Learning Center. Assessment requests and Fitness tests requests are registered for through Indiana OMS

Regional Referee Requirements   Regional Referee Cert. Requirements


National Referee & National Assistant Referee

(FORMERLY GRADES 4 AND 3) U.S. Soccer National Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate national and professional matches in any league except MLS. This includes the USL Championship and NWSL.

National Referees and Assistant Referees are selected and certified directly by U.S. Soccer.

[NATIONAL REFEREE REQUIREMENTS][5] [5]: /s/2021-National-Referee-Certification-Requirements.pdf

NATIONAL ASSISTANT REFEREE REQUIREMENTS 6: /s/2021-National-Assistant-Referee-Certification-Requirements.pdf

Professional Referee - P.R.O

P.R.O. Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate matches in any domestic competition, including MLS, as well as certain international matches.

P.R.O. is an independent company, supported by U.S. Soccer, that administers professional referee programs in North America. Candidates are selected by P.R.O. based on performance at the National Referee and Assistant Referee level.

[P.R.O. website][7] [7]:


FIFA Referee

FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees are qualified to officiate international matches at the highest level, including FIFA World Cup competitions.

This elite group of referees and assistant referees is recommended by the National Referee Committee, nominated by U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors and approved by FIFA



Futsal Referees

Futsal Referee, Grade 8

Futsal Referee Grade 6

  • ‚ÄčGrade 6 Futsal Referees work the most competitive futsal games within the state and region.
  • Indiana requires that upgrade to Grade 6 Futsal Referee requires at least two consecutive years as a Grade 8 Futsal referee and participate in at least one Regional or National Futsal event.