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April 13, 2022

Dear Soccer Community,

The Peninsula Soccer Referee Association created an ad hoc committee to examine the situation we are all facing on the soccer pitch.    The committee consisted of assignors, assignors that are also referees, and referees.   The committee met virtually and in person over the course of 3 months to systematically identify the symptoms and causes of the problems impacting organized soccer matches.  

Then the committee identified some actionable initiatives to try to address the problems.

The two principal concerns that have been identified are:
1) A substantial shortage of referees.
2) An unacceptable level of dissent and abuse being directed towards referees.

Numbers don't lie.    At the low point during the pandemic, the number of registered USSF referees in Northern California was around 33% of pre-pandemic levels.   The number of unassigned referee positions has increased ten fold over pre-pandemic levels.   This phenomenon is not unique to soccer, nor to the SF Bay Area.    There are reports of a shortage of referees, umpires and officials across the entire nation in all sports.   

In the fall of 2021, a spectator ran onto the field and slammed a referee to the ground.  This occurred in Roseville - here in Northern California.  Anecdotally, reports from referees are that chirping, dissent, negative comments from both spectators and coaches are at levels not seen before by most of us.   

These problems seem to be manifesting themselves in society in general.   There is the "great resignation" and individuals have their choice of employment opportunities.     And there is the societal rage - an example being the substantial increase in incidents involving passengers on commercial air flights.   

These trends comingle: the increase in air rage encourages flight attendants to find other employment.   Same thing with soccer referees: the increase in dissent/abuse prompts referees to quit and do something else.   

The ad hoc committee identified several things that can be done to try to incrementally change the soccer situation on the San Francisco Peninsula.  Specifically:

1) REFEREE FIELD SESSIONS - Clubs will be required to sponsor new grassroots referee training sessions in proportion to the number of matches that they list with Pensra annually.

2) CLUB REFEREE COORDINATORS - Clubs will be required to appoint a referee coordinator - not their assignor.

3) PRE GAME SPORTSMANSHIP DISCUSSION - Referees will be encouraged to discuss sportsmanship with each coach before the start of every game.   A card with an example of the discussion points will be mailed to all active referees.   See the card at .

4) REFEREE RECRUITMENT CARDS - will be distributed to all active referees and additional cards are available upon request.   These cards can be distributed to individuals that express an interest in becoming a referee.    See the card at .

5) REFEREE SUMMER CAMP - Pensra is hosting a referee summer camp for youth 12-17 years old to become grassroots referees or to improve their referee skills.  See 

6) REFEREE CONTINUING EDUCATION MODULE - A short continuing education module outlining these initiatives is now required of all referees for all positions in order to Self Assign.  

There is no "magic silver bullet" that will single-handedly address the challenges facing the soccer community.   Yet, the Peninsula Soccer Referee Association hopes that these initiatives will move the needle.

Many thanks to Darrell Ringman for chairing the ad hoc committee - bringing discipline and structure to the systematic review of the issues.  And to the committee members that donated hours and hours of their time to the free-ranging brain storming of problems and initiatives, thank you Mike Endsley, Michael Schulman, Bruce Beery, Rich Fern, Glenn von Tersch 


John Shield
Peninsula Soccer Referee Association