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Why should soccer referees use referee headsets in the game?

The U.S. Soccer Referee Education Resource Center has announced the regulation of electronic communication kits in 2021.

As the memo describes, grassroots referees are not permitted to use electronic headsets until they have received their regional referee license. The reason for this policy is

  • Using referee headsets may contribute to incorrect decisions
  • Using referee headsets may distract focus on the game

However, most grassroots referees disagree with such a policy. The use of technology in the game benefits significantly more than harm. Here are the benefits of using soccer referee headsets in the game.

Improved Communication

Referee headsets facilitate clear and instant communication among match officials, ensuring quick decision-making and better coordination on the field.

Enhanced Decision Accuracy

Communication between referees allows for quick exchange of information, reducing the likelihood of errors and improving the overall accuracy of decisions.

Efficient Handling of Situations

Referee headsets enable quick consultation among officials in critical or contentious situations, leading to more effective resolution of issues such as fouls, offside calls, or disputed decisions.

Quick Response to Emergencies

In cases of injuries or emergencies, instant communication through headsets enables referees to swiftly communicate with medical personnel or other officials to address the situation promptly.

Improved Match Control

Referee headsets contribute to better control of the game by facilitating communication about rule enforcement, player conduct, and overall match management.

Seamless Coordination

Headsets allow referees to stay in constant communication, ensuring a seamless flow of information regarding match dynamics, game time, and other crucial details.

Enhanced Referee Teamwork

With the ability for multiple referees to speak and listen simultaneously, referee headsets promote effective teamwork and coordination, crucial for large and dynamic soccer matches.

Clear Communication in Noisy Environments

Referee headsets are equipped with noise-canceling technology, enabling clear communication even in noisy stadium environments, and ensuring that referees receive and relay information accurately.

In general, the benefits of technology in the game are more than the harms.

If the U.S. Soccer Referee Committee thinks the referee communication system is harmful to the growth of grassroots, they can educate the grassroots referees to use referee headsets in the game correctly. Such guidelines to ban the use of referee headsets for grassroots referees can’t be enforced, we can see that in many states, young referees are using referee headsets in the primary games in 2023. So when new technology arrives, adapt to it, and leverage it, rather than prohibiting it.


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