How to become a football referee?

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The referee’s job might appear simple, but it is one of the most challenging roles in soccer, aside from being a player of course! If you’ve ever thought about trying your hand at referring, perhaps you should give it a go. This article takes you through the process of how to become a football referee at different levels.

How to become a soccer referee?

qualifications to be a referee in football

To become a football referee you must complete the relevant courses, receive the necessary sanctions, and earn the appropriate certifications required by a specific soccer organization.

Depending on the location you want to referee in and the governing body that oversees and regulates competitive games, the specific qualifications can vary.

For example, in the United States, referees must earn certifications from the US Soccer Federation (USSF) for their specific region. In the UK, referees receive certification from the Football Association (FA). They can apply through their local county FA.

Even referees at a local and regional level must have adequate qualifications. The state US Soccer association carries out background checks on applicants to ensure they are suitable candidates for refereeing youth and adult games.

Referees can progress through the ranks with good performances and experience, eventually reaching the professional level.

In the United States, the US Soccer representatives from a particular state help accelerate local referees’ careers by nominating them to officiate bigger and more important competitions, such as a state cup.

The 3 Steps to Becoming a Football Referee

Step 1: Contact your local County FA

Your local CFA will have a dedicated Referee Development team. They will explain to you what you need to do to get started.

Step 2: Take a course

The first course you take will get you to grips with the laws of the game and provide you with the necessary practical skills. The further you progress with refereeing, the more courses you will undertake to build your knowledge and game management skills.

Step 3: Get some experience

You can start refereeing junior football matches after you complete the basic course. This will help you to build the match experience you need to move up the ranks. You’ll be qualified to take on a higher level of the game with each new course you take.

What Is A Level 7 Referee?

how to become a premier league referee?

After completing the initial FA Referee Course, participants are regarded as Level 7, entry-level, junior referees, qualified to officiate amateur league games.

This is the lowest-ranking referee for adults. Although you can complete an official referee course when you are 14, you are regarded as a Level 8 youth referee until you turn 16. While referee candidates are taking part in a course, they are categorized as Level 9 officials.

The different levels of an English FA referee are:

  • Level 9: Trainee
  • Level 8: Youth referee (under the age of 16)
  • Level 7: Junior referee (officiates in local amateur leagues)
  • Level 6: County referee (officiates county leagues)
  • Level 5: Senior county referee (officiates county leagues)
  • Level 4: Supply referee (officiates supply leagues)
  • Level 3: Contributory referee (officiates National League and Football League as an assistant, or Premier League as a select group assistant)
  • Level 2b: Full referee for National League North and South, assistant referee for National and Football Leagues, or select group assistant referee for Premier League
  • Level 2a: Panel list full referee for National League, assistant referee for Football League, and select group assistant referee for Premier League
  • Level 1: National list full referee for EFL 1 and 2
  • Select Group 2: Professional referee for EFL Championship
  • Select Group: Professional referee for Premier League

To progress from levels 9 through 4, referees must make annual applications with their local FA. Representatives of the Association assess referees’ performances and check that they meet the relevant criteria before awarding them a promotion.

Criteria for progressing to the next level generally include officiating a certain number of games and receiving at least 3 assessments at their current level. It’s possible for referees to progress through 2 levels at once. However, they must complete all criteria at both levels to be eligible.

Completing some levels requires referees to participate in training seminars and pass written exams. When progressing from level 4 to the select group, demands are much higher. Candidates must commit to duties as referees and assistants across a variety of leagues. They must also pass fitness tests, strict assessments, and written exams.

Promotion is based on vacancies and demand on the next rung of the ladder. Premier League and EFL Championship referees are considered professionals.

How to become a Premier League referee?

The first step is to complete an FA Referees Course. This must be done through your local County FA. To be eligible for an FA course, applicants must be 14 years or older.

Over time, referees can gain experience and progress through the ranks of the FA to eventually become professional-level Premier League referees

How Do You Become A FIFA Referee?

FIFA’s pool of referees consists of top officials from different professional leagues around the world. To qualify as a FIFA official, a referee must have the highest possible qualification from a league that’s affiliated with FIFA. For example, a Premier League referee has the highest possible certifications domestically, meaning they are eligible to officiate in international FIFA competitions. PRO-certified referees from the US are also qualified to officiate such games.

How Do You Become A High-School Football Referee?

You can become a high-school referee by completing a USSF qualification and registering with the National Federation of State High-School Associations.

High-school referees are subject to background checks and must have a high-school diploma of their own. It’s generally an advantage for refs to gain some experience coaching underage or recreational league games. In some high-school leagues, referees are required to have their own equipment.

Who Is The Best Referee In The World?

There is no general consensus about who is the best referee in the world. It’s fair to say that the best refs are the Elite level FIFA officials. Whichever referee from this pool is given the responsibility of overseeing the biggest games each year, could be regarded as the best referee. The 2021 Champions League was officiated by Antonio Mateu Lahoz, from Spain.

The 2020 European Championship (2021) final was officiated by Björn Kuipers, from the Netherlands. It’s important to note that these games involved English and Italian teams, meaning referees from these countries are not considered. In the MLS, there is a special reward for the referees, called the “MLS Referee of the Year Award”. The 2021 winner was Robert Sibiga.


That’s all you need to become a football referee. For more information on football terms and rules… Follow our site right now!

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