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Become a Referee


Are you age 13 or older, want to become a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) referee and start working youth matches? Then you need to complete a US Soccer Grassroots Referee Course.

Grassroots Referee Course


The Grassroots Referee Course has both an online and an instructor-led, in-person component. Online assignments are completed in the US Soccer Learning Center before attending the in-person clinic.

Courses are listed in the calendar Events Summary. If you find one that you are interested in taking, click on the course and follow the instructions provided to create a Learning Center Profile and register. The cost is $61.28, and you pay online. Credit cards, debit cards, or pre-paid cards issued by VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express are accepted.

Online Assignments

After you have created a Profile and registered / paid for a course, you can enter its online CLASSROOM. There are 6 tasks you must complete under the ASSIGNMENTS tab. These must be completed before attending the in-person clinic:

Background Screening (Required for ages 18 and older)
SafeSport Training (90 minute module required for ages 18 and older)
Introduction to Safe and Healthy Playing Environments (30 minute presentation)
Online Grassroots Referee Course (4 hour module - go at your own pace)
• 2021-22 Laws of the Game Update

First Time Grassroots Referee Quiz (Do this last)

IMPORTANT: As you complete each assignment, be sure to click on ‘Save and Confirm’. For the longer assignments, periodically save your progress every 15-20 minutes.

Upon completion of the 4 hour Online Grassroots Referee Course assignment, you will be issued a completion certificate downloadable from your Learning Center Profile.

Don't see a Grassroots Referee Course scheduled near you but you'd like to get started right away? Then register for the IA – 2021-22 GRASSROOTS REFEREE PRE-COURSE (STATEWIDE) in the Learning Center. You will be able to complete the online assignments ahead of time. Then, when a course is listed in your part of the state, simply request your registration be transferred to the in-person course of your choice by sending an e-Mail to All your completed assignments will be transferred to the Grassroots Referee Course that you want to attend and there is no transfer fee.

If you need additional help, consult the Learning Center User Guide. You can also e-Mail the IRC HelpDesk at


Maybe you're not quite sure that you want to be a referee. Perhaps you would like to get a better understanding of what would be required of you as a referee before you spend money on a course. You can take and complete the 4 hour Online Grassroots Referee Course assignment as a standalone module FREE of charge to help you decide. If interested, go to the IOWA – ONLINE GRASSROOTS REFEREE MODULE in the Learning Center and click on CREATE REFEREE PROFILE. Follow the on-screen instructions. If you successfully complete the entire module and decide that you want to become a referee, then follow the course registration instructions provided at the top of this page. You will automatically receive credit for having completed the 4 hour Online Grassroots Referee Course assignment.

Understand that you are NOT a registered Grassroots Referee solely as a result of completing this free standalone module.

In-Person Clinic

After you have completed all the online Learning Center assignments for the Grassroots Referee Course, you are ready to participate in the instructor-led, in-person clinic part of the course. In addition to the practical on-field exercises to be held, the topics that will be covered include:
• How to get games / Working with Assignors – Ref. Assignment
• Demosphere assigning tool overview – Ref. Assignment
• Referee / Assistant Referee Signals – Ref. Video Resources
• US Soccer's Advice to New Referees video series – Ref. Video Resources
• Laws modifications for short-sided play, i.e., 7v7 and 9v9 – Ref. Publications
• Offside Position / Offside Infraction / Offside Decisions – Ref. Training & Tests
• Annual Recertification & Registration – Ref. Recertification & Registration


Maybe you have some questions about becoming a USSF referee. Or, you're already a soccer referee with some experience and now want to officiate high school or college matches. AYSO referees can cross-certify with USSF and become dual-certified. The information provided below may answer your questions.

Become a USSF Referee


The following questions will help you in your quest to become a certified referee with the United States Soccer Federation (USSF).

Q.: What is the United States Soccer Federation (USSF)?
A.: The USSF, or US Soccer, is the certifying organization for sanctioned club matches in the United States. If you want to work tournaments, local leagues (such as ISL), or club matches, you will need to be USSF Certified.

Q.: How can I become a soccer referee?
A.: By completing a Grassroots Referee Course which has both an online (Learning Center) and an in-person (instructor-led) component.

Q.: When are Grassroots Referee Courses offered?

A.: Courses are typically scheduled just prior to the start of the Spring and Fall Seasons, i.e., during February / March and then July / August.

Q.: Where can I go to find out more about the Learning Center?

A.: Go to the Learning Center page here on our website under REFEREES and Administration.

Q.: What are the requirements to take the course?
A.: You should be physically fit, emotionally mature, at least 13 years of age, and have the time available to referee games. If you are 18 or older, you must undergo a National Center for Safety Initiatives (NCSI) Background Screening and receive SafeSport Training. The NCSI background check is the only one that US Soccer will accept and SafeSport training is required by Federal Law.

Q.: Where can I find more information about SafeSport?
A.: Go to the US Soccer website Safe Soccer page to read about the SafeSport Authorization Act and applicable US Soccer Policies, download the Handbook, and get answers to FAQs.
Q.: How do I sign up for an In-Person Grassroots Referee Course?

A.: Course dates and times will be posted to the calendar Events Summary. Find a clinic that you would like to attend, click on the event, and follow the instructions provided to register for it. All courses require registration and payment through the Learning Center before attending.

Q.: What games can I referee once I have completed the Grassroots Referee Course?
A.: As a Grassroots Referee, you can be assigned as a Referee or an Assistant Referee for all youth games, including recreational and travel (or select) games. You can also be assigned as a Referee or an Assistant Referee to competitive youth games depending on your age and experience. You will typically start out working the younger age groups in small-sided 7v7 or 9v9 play; and, as you gain experience, move on to the older age groups.

Q.: When will I receive my referee badge?

A.: Official Sports International (OSI) will mail you a referee badge 30-45 days after you complete the course. Make sure that your mailing address is current in your Learning Center Profile to ensure that your badge is sent to the correct address.

Q.: After I pass the course, how do I get assigned games to referee?
A.: A Referee Assignor will schedule your games. You will be given a list of the local assignors either during or immediately after the referee course. It is your responsibility to contact the assignor, let them know you completed the course, and are ready to referee games. The most important things the assignor needs to know are your availability to do games, your e-Mail address, and phone number. Check the Assignment page for how to find an assignor near you.

Q.: Is there a way to review the online course materials after I've completed the Grassroots Referee Course?
A.: To review a course, do the following:

Login to the Learning Center
Hover over COURSES
Click on OPEN ARCHIVE for the course you’d like to review
Next, click on ASSIGNMENTS
Click on the ">" to the right of the progress wheel
Revisit the course

Q.: How do I continue to referee games after my first year?
A.: All referees must re-certify and re-register every year between July 1 and December 31. Referees who miss this registration window are assessed a late fee. Additionally, if you do not re-register during the normal registration window, you run the risk of not receiving a new referee badge. Recertification courses will be made available in the Learning Center in July. Once the assignments associated with the recertification module are completed and registration fees are paid, you will be registered for the following year. Referee certification is valid for each calendar year; however, re-certifications can start as early as July for the following year. If you first certified as a referee between July and December, your certification is valid for the remainder of that year and for the entire next calendar year. If you originally became certified in the first half of the year, then your certification is valid through December of that year. Check the Recertification & Registration page for more information.

Become a High School (NFHS) Soccer Official

In order to become a Soccer Official with the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), consult the registration procedures described on the IHSAA Officials page.
You must register with the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU) if you also intend to work Girls High School matches. Go to the IGHSAU Officials page for information on how to become an IGHSAU certified official.
NOTE: Most local Referee Assignors will require that you certify with both in order to receive High School matches.

Become a College (NISOA) Referee


In order to become a National Intercollegiate Soccer Officials Association (NISOA) referee, you must have a minimum of 3 years of referee experience and receive recommendations from existing college officials. Speak to a member of your local NISOA Chapter to receive more information. (See contacts below.) If transferring from another NISOA Chapter, you must complete a Transfer Form available from the NISOA web site.

NISOA Chapter Contacts
  Greater Iowa Chapter (GIC-NISOA) Phil Watson
  Mid-Iowa Chapter (MISOA) Ray Schwichtenberg

AYSO Cross-Certification with USSF


Are you an AYSO referee who would also like to be a USSF referee? An AYSO Intermediate, Advanced, or National Referee can cross-certify to a USSF Grassroots Referee by doing the following:

  1. Complete the AYSO/USSF Cross-Certification Form*. The authorizing signature is that of the Section Referee Administrator for a National Referee or the Area Referee Administrator for an Intermediate or Advanced Referee. The signature of the Regional Commissioner is also required.
  2. Write a check in the amount of $55, made payable to the Iowa Referee Committee (IRC), to cover the fees associated with registration as a USSF referee.
  3. Mail forms and check to:
IRC Registrar
655 S. Troy Rd.
Robins IA
Once your registration has been processed by the Registrar, a badge will be mailed to you.
Cross-certification is available to AYSO and USSF referees who are not already certified with both organizations. All games officiated for AYSO or USSF may be applied toward the certification requirements of either organization. The Diagonal System of Control (DSC) is the only recognized system of control.

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