Are We Ready For Restart?


While MLS, USL Champions and USL1 and NWSL have had games and continue there are very few referees within the state that have actually set foot on a soccer field let alone officiated a match in more than 7 months, at any level.

In Florida Soccer games just never stop, we have lulls of a month, perhaps a few weeks but it is year round 12 months at different levels of play youth to professional.

This like no other issue we have ever had is critical, we will be what seems “Starting from Scratch” and yes it has only been 7 months could go longer we never know.

  • Question; Ask yourself when was the last time you did not participate in anything for 7 months?

You can probably remember taking along vacation, or you may had some medical issue that prevented you for doing something for a period of time.

  • What did you do when you restarted after being away?

While getting Referees ready is important, this perhaps is equally an important issue “getting Assignors ready” for this as well.

Assignors are as important to the game as officials and have been contributors to referee problems/issues. (wrong official and supporting crew for level of game).

This is more critical now than ever before for multiple reasons;

  • Assignors get paid for assignments (none have been paid for now more than 7 months) that is for some “financial crisis”
  • Get the games covered regardless, if he/she can respond to assignment email he/she can do the game (he/she can walk and breath good to go)
  • They have no idea who the referee(s) are other than a name on a list
  • What is best for the game and what is best for the official?? Do thy have any idea of what this means?

Things to consider going forward besides registration for 2021 and games restarting:

  • Some referees will have not done a single game since registered for 2020
  • What age groups/divisions are the games being played?
  • The broad age group of officials that maybe viewing the presentations?
  • Who is our audience going to be?
  • Who is going to log in to the virtual meeting/training?
  • Is this going to be geared to specific age or level of play?
  • Grassroots entry level with little or no game experience officials from 13/14 years old to over 65
  • Grassroot long time officials no aspirations to move up set in their ways (may have combating opinions)
  • Grassroot up and coming(were grade 7 previously)
  • Emeritus (may have combating opinion)
  • Regional plying their trade
  • Regional Up and coming with future advance opportunity

The second thing that came to mind for me is this, “Fitness”,

  • none of these officials have been on the pitch since early March 7 months ago.
  • Watching a game on “TV, or Computer or cell phone” is helping to put yourself in that situation, is does not replace doing a game

As we know many of them are, let’s say generously “relatively healthy” but most likely have not done anything to keep “game fit”.

In the past, most of them would tell you their fitness level is  “I do 4,5,6 or more games (a day)(a weekend)(a week)” so I do not need to train, I am already fit.

Well the reality is this none of them have done a single game going on 7 months probably more.

  • Running on a track, or walking trail, or riding a bike is good for your heart health, but it is not like officiating a game.

While this is an individual issue for each Referee some key points for safety and preparation need to be expressed.

You can’t go from (Couch Potato) to (FIFA Referee) the soccer field and expect to perform like you did (or didn’t) 7 months ago.

Third thing, Pregame Conference or getting prepared, what referee crew needs to know. As we all know from our own experiences a poor pregame is first step to poor game performance or failure. I am sure this list is not everything and there may be more important things than these few.

  • What are the Consideration of Return Play Objectives of US Soccer, USYSA, USASA, FYSA, FASA?
  • What changes do I have to make to be in compliance for these additional requirements?
  • Where do I find those additional objectives/requirements, Rules of Competition?
  • Does my Assignor provide them or do I need to research on my own?
  • Covid 19 requirements for active participation in league play, am I required to wear a mask as a Referee or AR?
  • How will that affect me and my ability to do the game?
  • If I do not, how will that affect my assignments, the players, coaches or (parents if they are present)?
  • What is my Liability as an official as an Assignor?
  • How or what New LOTG changes going to affect the level of play for games  I am assigned?
  • How am I going to manage these games, what do I have to consider.
  1. What is the level of play,  U10 to U19, Adult?
  2. Am I assigned as the Referee or the AR?
  3. Who am I working with? What is the experience level? What is contact information?
  4. Who are the teams playing what do I know about them?
  5. Where is the game? What time?
  6. Is this my first game of the day or 2nd, 3rd, or ????
  7. Am I physically ready for more than 1 game for the day?

I am willing to cover the Pregame and I can get some of this online from US Soccer, USYSA, FYSA, FASA(Florida Adult Soccer Association, new branding of FSSA).

If you have some additional key points of concern or that should be considered or referenced let me know.

Mike Mekelburg
National Assignor

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