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U.S. Soccer Announces Online Grassroots Referee Course

By Henry Kronk
June 21, 2019

The FIFA Women’s World Cup is currently underway, with the group stage drawing to a close on June 20 and the round of 16 kicking off on the 22nd. While the U.S. squad remorselessly made it rain in Reims against Thailand on the 11th, the U.S. Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer) quietly made their own eLearning announcement a few days later. Starting July 1, it will launch its own sanctioned online referee course.

U.S. Soccer reports that there are just under 140,000 soccer referees in the U.S. calling games at various levels of play. The Online Grassroots Referee course is targeted towards refs who might not have much experience blowing the whistle. It imparts a standard knowledge set that touches on the requirements in each of the 55 U.S. State Referee Associations. Outside of the course, an additional online library containing 80 videos will be available to learners.

Moving Referee Training Online

These efforts mark the culmination of a four-year research process U.S. Soccer launched to determine what resources most grassroots referees need.

As U.S. Soccer writes in a post announcing the course, “Extensive program reviews, referee focus groups, task forces, and committees identified a need for a clearer Referee Pathway for those striving to reach the highest level, standardized requirements and procedures and greater support for the 97-percent of referees who officiate matches at the Grassroots level for the love of the game.”

The course will combine this online course with face-to-face classes. It will be up to each State Referee Committee to decide where and when these in-person classes occur. Successful completers will also be given their own U.S. Soccer Pocket Guide in addition to a copy of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game.

The course was designed in collaboration with EY NogginLabs. The Chicago-based online learning development company was acquired by Ernst & Young last November.

U.S. Soccer is offering the course via the newly established U.S. Soccer Learning Center. The site will also compile a database of refs who have successfully completed the training.

U.S. Soccer already maintains a library of videos online describing their rules for 9th-6th grade soccer (in both English and Spanish). But at levels of refereeing higher than that, the federation doesn’t have the same online resources.

U.S. Soccer Reshuffles Their Referee Hierarchy

The national soccer federation organizes their referee divisions as follows: ‘Grassroots’ designates soccer played among teams in grades 7 through 9; ‘Regional’ indicates grades 5 and 6; ‘National’ and ‘Assistant National’ refs officiate grades 3 and 4; while ‘Professional’ officials call games at the professional level. This last cert is administered by P.R.O., a separate company that is supported by U.S. Soccer. After Professional, the next level of officiating is FIFA.

The way the U.S. Soccer referees progress, they actually move down age levels to advance. The first step for future refs getting into the game today will likely begin with the new online course.

Featured Image: Jeffrey F Lin, Unsplash.