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All referees affiliated with FIFA have a designated referee grade. The grade indicates the qualification of the referee to officiate at various levels of local, national and international soccer competition. There is no relationship between a person's grade in school and their referee grade

Grade 1 Referees: Referees who officiate in the World Cup and international matches are designated as Grade 1.

Grade 2 Referees: Assistant Referees to Grade 1 Referees are designated as Grade 2.

Grade 3 and 4 Referees: In the United States, competition at the national level (including professional soccer and MLS) requires Grade 3 or 4. Grade 3 referees are designated as Professional Officials and Grade 4 referees are designated as National Officials. Both Grade 3 and Grade 4 officials select either a Referee or Assistant Referee track.

Grade 5 Referees: Grade 5 referees are assigned the top Adult games in the state, and lower level Professional matches. Grade 5 officials are considered national candidates and select either a Referee or Assistant Referee track.

Grade 6 Referees: The highest level of Adult competition within a state (Division 1 and 2) requires a Grade 6.

Grade 7 Referees: Grade 7 is an experienced referee in the state qualified to officiate all but the highest levels of amateur soccer.

Grade 8 Referees: Grade 8 is the entry level for new referees aged 14 and older. Once certified, these referees can expect to be working competitive or recreational games in Youth or Adult Leagues and Tournaments depending on the age of the referee.

Grade 9 Referees: Grade 9 certification is no longer offered in Massachusetts.

As referees advance to higher grades they are required to demonstrate their continued qualification through "maintenance" assessments and sustained high level competition experience. Each referee at Grade 6 or higher is also required to successfully pass a physical fitness field examination which includes distance, agility and speed tests. In rare circumstances referees who fail to maintain their qualifications are "downgraded" by the MSRC. Additional information can be found in the Upgrade section of our web site here


If you would like to find out how to progress to a higher Referee Grade please follow the menu on the left by choosing Upgrade under the Referee menu to the left.

Approximately 90% of all referees in Massachusetts are Grade 8, 7% are Grade 7 and the rest are Grade 6 or higher.