How to Become a Football Referee

A football referee is responsible for enforcing the rules of the game and ensuring that the match is played in a fair and safe manner. Referees are typically assisted by two assistant referees, who help to indicate when the ball goes out of play and when offside has occurred, and a fourth official, who does the administrative tasks and monitors the substitutions and additional time, and a video assistant referee (VAR), who reviews video footage to help make more accurate decisions.

During a match, the referee has the authority to issue yellow and red cards to players who commit fouls or exhibit unsportsmanlike behavior. The referee also has the power to stop or suspend a match if there are safety concerns or if there is unacceptable behavior from players, coaches, or spectators.

The role of the football referee is critical in ensuring that matches are played in accordance with the rules and that the integrity of the game is upheld.

Becoming a football referee is not difficult, but it could be challenging. Here are some general steps to follow in order to become a real-life football referee:


Before you start your journey to becoming a football referee, it's essential to know and determine the requirements for your country or region. In general, the basic requirements include:

  • Age: You must be at least 14 or 16 years old, depending on the country or region.
  • Qualification: You should have a good understanding of the football rules, regulations, and terminology.
  • Physical Fitness: You need to be physically fit to keep up with the fast-paced game and make accurate calls.
  • Training: You must complete the relevant training and certification courses.

Learn the Rules

Before you can become a referee, you'll need to have a good understanding of the football rules which are explained in the Laws of the Game. You can start by reading the official rules of the sport, which are published by FIFA and are available online. You can also play the Footballizer Referee Simulator, which is an educational interactive game based on the FIFA Laws of the Game.

Attend a Training Course

Most football associations or organisations offer referee training courses for aspiring referees. These courses cover the rules of the game, officiating techniques, and practical experience. You can find out about training courses by contacting your local football association or by searching online.

Register with the appropriate football association in your region. Then, attend the courses and complete the referee training program. The program will cover the basic rules of the game, positioning, signaling, and the proper use of equipment. You will also learn how to deal with difficult situations, such as player misconduct and injuries.

Pass the Referee Exam and Get Certified

After completing a referee training course, you'll need to pass the exam and become certified by your local football association or organization. The exam will test your knowledge of the rules, your ability to apply them in different situations, and your physical fitness. You will also need to demonstrate your knowledge of the signals and gestures used by referees.

Start Officiating Games

Once you're certified, you can start officiating games. At first, you may be assigned to lower-level games such as youth matches or small-sided games, but as you gain experience, you can work your way up to higher-level games, which will allow you to apply what you have learned in real-life situations, gain confidence, and improve your skills.

Continue Learning and Improving

Officiating is a skill that requires ongoing learning and improvement. You can continue to improve your skills by attending referee seminars, training sessions, watching and analyzing games, and seeking feedback from more experienced referees.

Build Your Fitness

As a referee, you need to be physically fit to keep up with the game's pace and make accurate calls. You should focus on building your endurance, agility, and speed. You can do this by incorporating cardiovascular exercises, such as running and cycling, into your routine.

Build Your Network

Building a network of fellow referees and officials can be beneficial for your career. You can learn from their experiences, share your own, and receive feedback on your performance. You can attend local meetings, seminars, and workshops to meet other referees and officials.

Become a Professional Referee

If you have gained enough experience and skills, you may want to become a professional referee. This will require further training and certification, and you will need to be able to handle high-pressure situations and make difficult calls in front of large crowds. Ask your local association or organization for further development and the requirements to become a professional football referee.

Take note that the specific requirements and processes for becoming a football referee may vary depending on your location and the organization you're working with. However, these general steps can serve as a starting point for anyone interested in becoming a football referee.

Becoming a referee can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By following these steps and putting in the effort, you can become a respected and successful referee who contributes to the beautiful game of football.