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USSF Affiliated Games and Priority for Referees and Assignors

US Soccer's Code of Ethics states that referees are expected to "give priority to all Federation affiliated assignments and obligations." Furthermore, US Soccer defines certain matches as "priority" assignments as follows:

As a US Soccer-certified referee or assignor, it is expected that priority be given to these compeititons. More importantly, it is also important that both referees and assignors do not afford priority to non-affiliated matches that conflict with priority affiliated matches. In hopes of providing some clarification on expectations, MNSRC provides the following set of guidelines regarding the assignment and acceptance of game assignments by referees.

First, we need to clarify what "affiliated" matches are. A majority of the competitions that take place in spring and summer in Minnesota are USSF-affiliated. These include competitive MYSA matches, youth tournaments certified by MYSA, in-house youth recreational leagues, and adult leagues that are sanctioned by the Minnesota Soccer Association. A short list of competitions that are certified are listed here:

By becoming certified as a USSF referee or assignor, you commit to servicing affiliated matches, first and foremost. It is not the intent of the SRC to police officials working unaffiliated matches. However, a USSF referee who knowingly declines assignment to an affiliated match to work an unaffiliated match may be subject to discipline from the State Referee Administrator.

Per internal discussion, MNSRC would only look to enforce this policy from January 1 through August 15 of any given calendar year. Scholastic competitions (middle school, high school, and college) are unaffiliated competitions but take place during a time period in Minnesota where MNSRC understands there is a need for higher-level officials to commit to these competitions. Furthermore, there is less demand for officials in affiliated play from August 16 to December 31, with only a few Devleopmental Academy dates and fall MYSA play that is limited to U14 and younger.

Certain affiliated competitions within Minnesota are considered "high priority," based on the list designated by US Soccer. These competitions are expected to be honored by both assignors and referees with deference to all other competitions, affiliated or otherwise. These competitions include:

The likelihood of discipline rises if that referee is refusing to officiate high priority matches in order to work unaffiliated matches.

For example, if a USSF referee is asked to work an MYSA State Cup match, and declines in order to work a match for an unaffiliated adult team, the odds of significant discipline being enacted against that referee rise. If a USSF assignor is knowingly assigning an unaffiliated match which conflicts with one of these high-priority competitions, and that competition is struggling to find an official, then that assignor is more likely to be subject to significant discipline.

Assignors are expected to defer to high priority competitions as defined by the federation. Attempting to "lock up" officials with lower priority assignments on dates when competitions such as State Cup are taking place could be considered a breach of USSF's Code of Ethics. This does not mean referees cannot take non-State Cup games on State Cup dates. However, it does mean that if a referee is able to and asked to work a State Cup match on a date where he or she has been assigned, for example, an MYSA club tournament game, the referee is expected to turn back the club tournament game and work the State Cup game. That referee's assignor is expected to release the referee for the State Cup match without consequences. Consideration is absolutely given to the transportation ability and skill level of the official in question.

If the conflict is between an unaffiliated match and a lower-priority affiliated match, you are still subject to potential discipline. Say you decline an MYSA competitive assignment to work an unaffiliated adult tournament... you do run the risk of having your USSF certification suspended for refusing to work the affiliated matches.

Please remember that the SRC does not consider working MSHSL/WIAA (high school) or NCAA/NJCAA (college) matches a conflict of this policy except for fall Developmental Academy games. DA is the only priority competition that conflicts with high school and college soccer, and USSF referees are expected to prioritize DA matches if assigned to them.

In an attempt to prevent unnecessary sanction of both referees and assignors, the SRC strongly recommends the following course of action for officials:

If you are unsure of whether a competition is affiliated (e.g., is not on the list above), or if you are asked to officiate two different competitions and are unaware if one is considered high priority, contact the SRA (Paula Hildman, sra@minnesotasrc.com) for guidance.

Please understand that unknowingly violating this policy is still likely to result in a reprimand. Repeated violations, even if not deliberate, can result in more severe sanctions. Knowingly refusing to take an affiliated assignment of any type in order to work an unaffiliated assignment or assigning an unaffiliated competition during a time period when there is a demand for certified officials in affiliated competitions are considered more egrigious violations. Discipline can include suspension or revocation of your USSF certification as a referee or assignor.

For organizers of competitions not listed above, it is strongly recommended that you affiliate with the appropriate governing body (MYSA, MSA, or US Club) to ensure that you have access to USSF-certified officials. Not affiliating will create the possibility of recommendations from MNSRC to referees to not work your competition.


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