Frequently Asked Questions about Referees for Parents

A photo of a group of AYSO Referee's applauding while standing on a field.

Referees are as critical to soccer as players and coaches. In AYSO, the game can’t be played if there aren’t enough referees. It’s most common for a volunteer to begin their AYSO referee career by refereeing their own child’s game. However, as they learn the rules, develop their own techniques for managing players, coaches and fans, and gain an appreciation for how important the role of the referee is to a fun, fair and safe soccer experience, they often find it very rewarding to expand their knowledge and experience through AYSO’s advanced training and certification process. AYSO’s referee training is considered some of the best in the U.S. and includes both in-person courses in your community and online opportunities. Soccer knowledge is a plus, but is certainly not required. The AYSO referee training will give you all you need to know to have a terrific experience on the field.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding Referees

Why does AYSO need volunteer referees?

AYSO is 100 percent volunteer organization; we all do it for the kids. Each season we need as many referees as coaches if not more; refereeing is easier and less of a time commitment. AYSO is about playing Fun, Fair and Safe. Our referee training is what makes it possible. If there is no official to referee a game the kids don't get to play.

Is prior soccer experience required to to become a referee?

No, but some familiarity with soccer is certainly a plus. Coaches, parents, players and other volunteers have all proved to be excellent referees even if they have never played soccer. Youth (older than 12-years old) referees are welcome!

Can we pay referees?

Most people would rather increase the registration fee a small amount to avoid volunteering. The problem with this idea is the concept that paying people motivate enough individuals to get training and begin doing games as certified referees. Unfortunately, the offer to pay people is not enough of a temptation. Most people would still rather pay than to be the one to referee.

The only way to convince people they need to look in the mirror to find the person who is going to step up and coach a team or referee is to tell them the truth. And, the truth is pretty simple:

  • The Article Two, Section 2.5 of the National Policy Statements (see below) state the reasons why AYSO only allows volunteers.
  • The National Policy Statements also state that every game - starting at Under-8 (which includes Under-7) - must have a certified, authorized referee whre:
    • "Authorized" means the individual has been registered as a volunteer in the current Membership Year and passed the background check. And,
    • "Certified means they have completed the appropriate training to referee the match including completing Safe Haven training).
  • The Region uses SchedulesEtc for game and referee scheduling. Referees log into SchedulesEtc and sign up to referee games - the Region does not have a referee assignor.
  • If the game does not have a referee (by Friday night), then the game is canceled in its entirety. We cancel games on Friday night because it gives the coaches enough time to tell their teams not to show up since the game cannot be played.
  • A canceled game means  the teams cannot play a game of any kind including having a "scrimmage" -- no scrimmages! Coaches can and will suffer severe consequences if they are caught allowing two teams to "scrimmage" when the game has been canceled.
  • The decline of available, certified referees as your child gets older is very quick. We estimate one in four referees who did games in Under-8 will still be active in Under-10. One in four of those referees will still be an active referee when your child is in the Under-12 division. One out of four of those referees might obtain enough training to be an active referee when your child is in the Under-14 division. If you need to add 3 referees by the time your child reaches the Under-14 division, then you need to start out with 192 referees (which becomes 48 at U10, 12 at U12 and 3 at U14). You and everyone else in the Under-8 divisions need a lot of people to step up and to continue stepping up as your child - and their friends - get older and continue playing AYSO soccer. 

Consequently, the truth is you - the person reading this webpage - need to decide whether or not you want to be the one to referee, the one to coach or the one to help with the Region's operations? Everyone should decide to help the Region with one of these three important areas to ensure your child - and every child in AYSO Region 213 - can experience one of the best youth sports programs available.

2.5 Paying Volunteers.

AYSO has maintained throughout its existence a total volunteer concept of operation (except for its National staff) including without limitation, all aspects of coaching, officiating and local administration. Countless Regions across the country provide a successful and enjoyable soccer experience through such total volunteer efforts. Nevertheless, AYSO recognizes the pressures of day to day life that compete for the valuable volunteer time sometimes make it difficult to provide a quality soccer program solely with volunteers. However, various federal and state tax and labor laws apply when payment is provided for services which, if ignored, may incur significant liability for the AYSO organization and personal liability for the executive member and/or board members who approve or condone such payments. Such liability is not covered in the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 for these volunteers. It is the purpose of this policy statement, therefore, to reinforce AYSO’s allvolunteer concept but to provide a protocol for a Region to follow when it is felt that it must pay for certain services.

The National Office has prepared guidelines for Regions to use, which have been approved by the NBOD for distribution. Regions contemplating payment for services must consult these guidelines first. No payment may be made by a Region to anyone for services commonly provided by volunteers that is not in strict compliance with those guidelines. Failure to comply with these guidelines when paying for services may result in the suspension or removal of the person(s) responsible and could result in the revocation of the Region’s Charter. executive members and Regions, Areas, Sections or Tournaments engaging in practices that are not in compliance with the guidelines must understand that doing so could expose them to personal liability in any legal action arising from any payment for services.