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Referee Pathway

A new structure for referees nationwide aiming to reach the highest levels of the game was introduced in 2019 by U.S. Soccer.  
What is the New Pathway?
Starting with the 2020 registration cycle (July 1, 2019), U.S. Soccer moved 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.
Referees’ grade levels transitioned seamlessly to the new license levels. Past Grade 7, 8 and 9 referees became Grassroots referees. Grade 5 and 6 referees became Regional referees. Grade 3 and 4 referees are now National referees while Grade 1 and 2 referees are FIFA Referees.
The consolidation of referee grades into license levels does not impact the quality or quantity of games assigned to a referee.
A Collaborative Process
The new Referee Pathway was born out of an extensive multi-year review of the referee landscape led by U.S. Soccer and its Members. The investigation concluded that a clear and aligned pathway for referees was needed.
This new Referee Pathway will not only provide a clearer understanding on the process to become a referee, but it will also create more opportunities for referee participation and development. 
New Beginnings
Alongside the release of the new Referee Pathway, U.S. Soccer has launched a new Grassroots Online Referee Course on the U.S. Soccer Learning Center. These resources will better support referees on the field as well as referee administrators off the field.
Referees are able to create free profiles within the Learning Center and State Referee Committees can use the Learning Center as an administrative tool at no cost.
More Opportunities for More Referees
A condensed pathway provides more opportunities for development and improvement at every level of refereeing. The new Referee Pathway is designed to facilitate upward movement, with clear, nationally-recognized standards and requirements to be met in order to progress.
Building the Base
U.S. Soccer launched the Online Grassroots Referee Course alongside the new Referee Pathway in July 2019, providing an accessible platform to grow the base of Pathway. The course is hosted on the new U.S. Soccer Learning Center, a comprehensive digital resource for the Federation’s education and licensing programs.
The Online Grassroots Referee Course serves as a digital component for the Grassroots Referee license, allowing in-person courses to focus on practical on-field learning.