Recreational Soccer

Uniform and Equipment Requirements

April 2013

This document describes the official United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Uniform, Equipment, and Appearance standards for SYA soccer referees. These standards apply to all USSF-sanctioned games, including tournaments, other recreational leagues, travel leagues, and other matches.

These standards are to be followed at all times. Repeated violations may be sanctioned by the SYA Referee Commissioner. However, there will be occasions when sensible deviations or allowances will be made, for example, during inclement or extreme weather conditions. In such instances, referees should make every effort to comply with the accepted standards.


SYA works very hard to present the best foot forward on behalf of its soccer referees. Players, coaches, spectators, and others—including members of your referee team—know how a referee is supposed to look. Rash judgments can occur when a referee appears as though s/he is unprepared, disinterested, and possibly ill-trained or inexperienced. Unfortunately, when the individual with the whistle (or the flag) doesn’t look the part, s/he runs the risk of not being treated like a referee. Moreover, any lack of attention to your appearance disrespects everyone else involved in the game.

Some deviations in your uniform and equipment are more serious than others, but all deviations reflect poorly upon you, your fellow referees, and SYA. By contrast, your professionalism, attention to detail, and positive attitude WILL affect how players, coaches, and spectators RESPECT your decisions.


Referees, Assistant Referees, and 4th Officials shall be correctly and appropriately dressed in the Official USSF Referee Uniform. The Official USSF Referee Uniform consists of the following:

  1. USSF Referee Shirt – GOLD, BLACK, or RED, either short or long sleeve.1

  1. GOLD is the primary shirt color for SYA referees. The first alternate color is BLACK, second alternate color is RED, third alternate color is BLUE, and fourth alternate color is GREEN.2

  1. All referees that work SYA U9-U14 recreational games and Suburban Friendship League (SFL) U16-U19 games shall have both the GOLD and BLACK referee shirts.3


  1. All referees that work SYA travel and tournament games shall also have the RED shirt.


  1. All referees that work State Cup or other higher-levels of competition should also have the BLUE and GREEN shirts.

  1. When wearing any undergarment that is visible under the USSF referee shirt, the undergarment shall be predominantly black with no designs, logos, writing, stripes, decorations, etc. visible beneath the referee shirt.

  1. USSF Referee Shorts – Solid black with no stripes, designs, or writings of any kind, with the exception of an official USSF logo and/or manufacturer’s logo (e.g., Official Sports, Score).

  1. When wearing compression style or “bicycle” shorts under the USSF referee shorts, these shorts shall be solid black and no longer than the referee shorts.

  1. USSF Referee Socks – Solid black with 3 horizontal white stripes at the top. For comfort, referees may wear extra socks of any color under their referee socks. Although not required, referees are recommended to have an extra pair of referee socks with them in case of inclement weather, wet or muddy fields, or other conditions.

  1. USSF Referee Badge – Official USSF badge with current certification year, properly attached to the referee shirt. The badge can be attached by Velcro, sewn, or pinned, provided no pins or sewing stitches are visible.4

  1. Solid Black (or Predominantly Black) Referee Shoes – With black laces, kept clean, in good condition, and generally free from debris. Acceptable shoes are referee shoes, tennis shoes, soccer cleats (no metal, aluminum, or steel), turf shoes, or other appropriately safe, closed-toe footwear.5

  1. Black Wristwatch with Timer/Chronograph Feature – Kept in excellent working condition. Digital watches are recommended, but not required. Stopwatches worn around the neck are prohibited.

  1. Whistle, Flipping Coin, Yellow/Red Cards, Assistant Referee Flags (2), Writing Instruments and Score Sheets – Referees may want to have 2 whistles should one become defective during a game.

  2. OPTIONAL Inclement Weather Garments – Referees may wear any or all of the following garments for cold, windy, rainy, hot/sunny, etc., days, as well as for medical reasons (e.g., skin protection):

  • Compression-style shirts, turtleneck-style shirts, sweatshirts, wind/rain shirts, etc., UNDER your USSF referee shirt.

  • Wind/rain pants, sweat/track pants, etc., OVER your USSF referee shorts.

  • Thermal (compression-style, Spandex-style, etc.) pants UNDER your USSF referee shorts and UNDER your USSF referee socks.

  • Gloves, hats, and/or ear warmers made of soft material. Baseball-style caps shall be worn with the brim facing forward.

  1. In general, all of these garments shall be solid black or predominantly black and free from visible designs or decorations. Allowances will be made for garments with small manufacturer’s logos, but referees should generally avoid wearing garments that have visible designs, stripes, writings, or decorations.

  1. Unless prescribed by a physician, under no circumstances are referees to wear sunglasses while refereeing games. Exceptions will be made for prescription colored or tinted lenses. If worn, any type of glasses should be made of safe, impact-resistant materials and secured to your head by a strap. Remember: if players aren’t allowed to wear it, neither are you.

1 Referees are required to have the appropriate quantity of shirt colors and sleeve lengths so that all members of the referee team are dressed in the same color, particularly when resolving color conflicts with players/team jerseys. In addition, higher level competitions often require that referees wear matching sleeve lengths.

2 In general, USSF expects referees to select referee shirts in this order (with discretion): gold, black, red, blue, and green.

3 Beginning with the Fall 2012 season, SYA recreational uniform shirt colors for U9-U14 became standardized as Red/Home and White/Away. In addition, SYA SFL uniform shirts for U16-U19 are typically Red/Home and White/Away. This eliminated a previous SYA requirement to have the RED referee shirt for SFL regular season games.

4 Circular-shaped Velcro discs are widely available from vendors selling USSF uniforms and equipment. Referees may want more than one disc should it become separated/lose adhesion by repeatedly attaching your badge to your referee shirt.

5 Referees are reminded that working several games per day creates wear and tear on the human body. Shoes should be selected based not only on color (black), but also on comfort AND support.

Click Below To Translate:

SYA Office Location: 5950 Centreville Crest Lane, Centreville, VA 20121 | SYA Mailing Address: Southwestern Youth Association, P.O. Box 471, Centreville, VA 20122 Phone: (703) 815-3362 | Fax: (703) 815-2180 | E-mail: | Designed by GroupNet Solutions