USSF Grades Explained
All referees affiliated with FIFA have a designated referee grade. The grade indicates the qualification of the referee to officiate at various levels of local, national and international soccer competition. There is a common misconception that these grades are related to elementary or secondary school grades - they're not, they are assigned by the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF).
FIFA International: International Referees (used to be Grade 1) officiate in the NWSL, MLS, and are appointed by CONCACAF and FIFA to international events including the Olympics and World Cups.
FIFA International Assistant Referee: International Assistant Referees (used to be Grade 2) officiate in the NWSL, MLS, and are appointed by CONCACAF and FIFA to international events including the Olympics and World Cups.
Professional Referee/Professional Assistant Referee: The highest level of competition in the country (NWSL and MLS) requires Professional Referees and Assistant Referees (used to be Grade 3).
National Referee/National Assistant Referee: Competition at the national level (professional matches including the USL Championship) requires National Referee and National Assistant Referee (used to be Grade 4).
Regional Referee: The highest level of competition within a state (amateur leagues beyond youth) requires a Regional Referee grade ( used to be Grade 5 and Grade 6).
Grassroots Referee: This is the Grade used to be Grade 7 and Grade 8.
As referees advance to higher grades they are required to demonstrate their continued qualification for their grade through "maintenance" assessments and sustained high level competition experience. Each Regional referee is required to successfully pass a physical fitness field examination which includes distance, agility and speed tests. The results of this test are recorded to fulfill part of the annual registration / recertification requirements. In rare circumstances referees who fail to maintain their qualifications are "down-graded" and this is reflected on their next registration.
Thinking Of Upgrading ?
Upgrading From Grassroots
Upgrading to Regional Referee isn't for the faint of heart. The referee must be at least 18 years old, have experience refereeing adult games, pass three (3) performance evaluations as a referee, pass an international physical fitness test, and complete a 2-3 day Regional Referee Course and Field Session between July 1st and June 30th.
UPGRADE PROCESS EXPLAINEd