Soccer referees have to pass a number of tests each season. These include a mix of written, physical, and practical evaluations.
Soccer Referee Written Test
The first step for new and recertifying referees each year is to take a rules test.
The purpose of the written test is to test referees on basic knowledge. Even experienced players and coaches don’t know the nuances of the rules or think they know the rules when they don’t.
There are different levels of tests for different referee levels. The lowest level referees are tested on very basic rules needed to manage a recreational game. Higher-level referees are tested more on unusual and complex situations.
Soccer Official Fitness Test
The FIFA fitness test tests a referee’s capacity for distance running as well as repeated sprint ability. The minimum requirements to pass the fitness test increase with the referee’s level. The lowest level referees often don’t need to pass a fitness test unless they’re seeking a promotion.
The FIFA fitness test for referees consists of two tests. First, referees must make repeated sprints of 40 meters within a specified time. Next is an interval test where referees run for 75 meters and then walk for 25 meters around a track. Each referee must finish the run and walk intervals in a specific amount of time. The number of laps and time intervals depends on the referee’s level.
Assistant referees take three tests. In addition to the two trials for referees, assistant referees must complete a change of direction ability test. The test involves running through a series of cones with requirements to zig-zag and side step. ARs also have to perform repeated sprints at a faster pace than referees.
An old version of the FIFA fitness test used a 150-meter run in place of the 75-meter run with 50-meter walks. That made for two high-speed runs per lap instead of four. Since a soccer field is up to 120 meters long, the newer version is a more realistic test.
The Cooper fitness test was used prior to the introduction of the interval test and is sometimes still used at lower levels. The test consists of a 12-minute run where referees must achieve a minimum distance. There is also a 50-meter and 200-meter sprint with minimum time requirements.
What level of fitness does a referee need?
The level of fitness needed by a referee depends on the level of play. That’s why the fitness test requirements increase at higher levels.
Lower-level youth and adult recreational games can be handled by any adult with a moderate level of physical fitness.
Passing the formal fitness tests usually requires specific training. Referees cover more distance and have fewer chances to stop than players. Even highly fit players will usually need to adjust their training plan to pass the advanced fitness tests.
How do soccer referees train?
Referees usually train individually or in small groups. Since the fitness test requires specific training, referees will usually need access to a track or open soccer field.
Soccer Match Officials Practical Evaluation
Football referees also must undergo one or more practical evaluations each year. A referee observer grades each match official during the game based on their individual and team handling of key match incidents.
At lower levels, referees are required to pass one or a small handful of evaluations to promote to the next level. Each referee also has to be evaluated each year to keep their level.
At the professional level, nearly every game is observed and scored. Referee ratings throughout the season are a key factor in which referee is appointed to high-profile games and playoffs.