US Soccer is likely getting new referee uniforms. Here’s what you can expect.
Why would US Soccer change the referee uniform?
US Soccer has changed the referee uniform every five to ten years.
In 2000, the old black and fuschia jerseys were replaced with the narrow pinstripes yellow, black, and red jerseys. Blue and green were added later.
In 2008, the narrow pinstripes were replaced with a wider pinstripe design. These jerseys were much hated for their heavy material and baggy fit.
In 2016, US Soccer again released new uniforms. The existing colors turned neon, and the jerseys gained a more athletic fit with a much more breathable material. These changes were in response to years of referee feedback and calls to switch to Adidas referee jerseys.
About Official Sports
Official Sports has been the sponsor of the US Soccer referee program for decades. They’re currently the only company allowed to use the US Soccer referee logo, and US Soccer receives a royalty on sales.
Official Sports was hit hard by the pandemic with long shipping times and declining customer satisfaction due to various issues.
OSI’s potential customer base was also already shrinking with shifts in the college assigning landscape, many state high school associations switching to their own uniforms, and overall declines in the number of registered referees. This presents a major challenge since the company is a referee-only company.
Rise of Capelli Sports
Capelli Sports has made an aggressive push into both the youth soccer landscape and referee uniforms. They’ve signed deals with many youth clubs and are the official college soccer referee jersey provider for Elite College Soccer Referees.
Currently, Capelli is not an official sponsor of US Soccer, but they’ve signed many deals with state referee associations and assigning groups. They manufacture the same style of jersey as Official Sports without the US Soccer referee logo.
In addition, Capelli soccer referee jerseys are up to half the price off of Official Sports referee jerseys when you order through one of the groups that has a deal with them.
New US Soccer Referee Uniforms
New USSF referee uniforms are still only a rumor, but the rumors are at the same level as previous jersey changes. There have never been false rumors spread in as many channels and in as much detail as the current rumors.
With the above factors and the timing, referees should expect new uniforms within the next year or two. This would coincide with the expiration of Official Sports’ current contract, which isn’t public information.
Capelli is an obvious frontrunner to win a potential new referee jersey contract. OSI will also likely make a strong pitch to avoid losing an important customer.
Another option is for US Soccer to go the NCAA route and get away from having an official uniform provider. While referees have technically been free to buy from any manufacturer, there has always been pressure for referees to wear the right logo, including assignors at certain showcase events outright banning “alternate” manufacturers.
A manufacturer-neutral option would either leave off the US Soccer referee logo or license it to multiple manufacturers.
Referees should avoid purchasing new uniforms and other branded equipment until a new deal is in place.