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 go to the IA – ONLINE 2020-21 GRASSROOTS REFEREE COURSE (STATEWIDE) in the US Soccer Learning Center. This course is also available in Spanish: IOWA – CURSO VIRTUAL DE ARBITRO DE BASE, 2020-2021.

If you would like to get started right away, open the course link, click on LOG IN and then SIGN UP NOW to register for the course. The cost is $60 and you pay online. The Learning Center will accept credit cards, debit cards, or pre-paid cards issued by VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. Follow the instructions provided in the Learning Center to create your Profile. If you need additional help, consult the Learning Center User Guide. You can also e-Mail the IRC HelpDesk at

Once you enter the CLASSROOM, there are 5 tasks you must complete under the ASSIGNMENTS tab:

Background Screening (Required for ages 18 and older)
2020 SafeSport Training (90 minute module required for ages 18 and older)
2020 Introduction to Safe and Healthy Playing Environments (30 minute presentation)
Online Grassroots Referee Course (4 hour module - go at your own pace)

2021 First Time Grassroots 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 Online Grassroots Referee Course assignment, you will be issued a completion certificate downloadable from your Learning Center Profile.

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 $60 on the 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, click on LOG IN and then SIGN UP NOW. 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.

After you have completed all the Learning Center course assignments, you are ready to participate in an instructor-led IA – IN-PERSON 2020-21 GRASSROOTS REFEREE COURSE. In-person courses will be posted to the Calendar Events Summary. In addition to the practical on-field exercises to be held, the topics that will be covered include:
• Laws modifications for short-sided play, i.e., 7v7 and 9v9
• US Soccer's Advice to New Referees video series
• Offside Position / Offside Infraction / Offside Decisions
• Referee / Assistant Referee Signals
• Demosphere assigning tool overview
• Resources provided under the Iowa Soccer website REFEREES tab

• Open book exam


Impact to In-Person Grassroots Referee Courses


There will be no In-Person Grassroots Referee Courses held during Winter / Spring 2021!

Individuals who are interested in becoming referees will need to follow the instructions provided above for the IA – ONLINE 2020-21 GRASSROOTS REFEREE COURSE (STATEWIDE). Those who successfully complete all the required assignments will be contacted by an Instructor to participate in a 2-3 hour Virtual "In-Person" Grassroots Referee Course to cover how to get assigned to games, helpful resources available, US Soccer's annual registration process, and to answer any questions. These Virtual "In-Person" Grassroots Referee Courses will be posted to the Calendar Events Summary through March 2021 prior to the start of the Spring Season.


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 the Grassroots Referee Course in the US Soccer Learning Center which has both an online and an in-person (instructor-led) component.

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 check and receive SafeSport training. The NCSI background screen 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 pre-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 after 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.