Professional Soccer Referees Association - Through Unity, Strength

An Open Letter to our Referee Community

January 23, 2024

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to first offer a sincere and heartfelt congratulations to those who have recently returned from National Camp. For some of you this marks your first time earning your National badge, and for others this year marks a milestone of achieving this elite level for many years. We also offer our best wishes to those of you who will complete your final requirements to earn your National badge in the coming weeks. 

We extend our congratulations to the officials who worked PRO matches last season, and we welcome those added to the assigning pool for 2024. We look forward to sharing the pitch with you soon.

Lastly, to those who recently completed a successful and always challenging College season, our congratulations on your accomplishments. 

Our game is more visible now than ever. It is visible domestically and internationally: Federation matches, youth matches, amateur matches, PRO-assigned matches, and college matches of all levels are now televised, streamed, or otherwise broadcast across the country or the world. The importance of having elite level officials to service these matches has never been greater.

Regardless of the organization(s) you work for, make no mistake: your talents and skills are specific, valuable, and elite. For many of us, we’ve been doing this so long we forget how rare our job, skills, passion, and involvement truly are.

If you find yourself thinking that what you do is “common,” just try explaining your training, travel, and actual function to a coworker in your 9-5 job - you’ll quickly be reminded of the uniqueness of your role and the admiration that most hold for your commitment to participate in sport at the level you have achieved.

Over the past 15 years PSRA has worked tirelessly to help establish an environment in which soccer officiating in North America can be a legitimate career choice for those who wish to pursue it. A career with the benefits and norms of employment that govern others in elite levels of their profession. 

Through solidarity among all officials, we have increased the professionalism, security, and game fees for everyone in NWSL, USL, and MLSNP; ensured that NISA follow through on their financial obligations to each of you; and raised the standards across each league, something the leagues have shown they will not do on their own.

This letter comes to you at a most difficult time for a specific group of your officiating colleagues. Those who service Major League Soccer are deep in negotiations with PRO and MLS to establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to govern our employment for the next several years. 

As the 2024 season approaches, it is possible that our current negotiating situation may result in a work stoppage. This happened in 2014, as some of you may recall. 

Should MLS and PRO decide to start the 2024 regular season by locking out the normal MLS officials on the field, some of you may be contacted by PRO and asked to officiate for a period of time in place of those who are temporarily locked out from their primary profession. 

While there are a number of open issues for which the Parties continue to bargain, we do not know which path negotiations may take in the coming weeks, but we are united, we are determined, and we ask you to stand with us in solidarity as we move forward.

Our current CBA has been extended through January 31, and we will have more information for you over the coming days and weeks.

We thank you. We wish you continued success and the ability to achieve whatever goal you have set for yourself within this sport that we each love so much. If you have any questions, or would just like further information, please let us know - is how you can easily reach us on the Board, or you can feel free to reach out to anyone working in MLS with whom you may have a connection.

On behalf of all MLS officials,

The PSRA Executive Board

Peter Manikowski, President
Brian Poeschel, VP
Chris Penso, Secretary
Jonathan Johnson, Treasurer
Matt Franz, Member-at-Large
Jeremy Hanson, Member-at-Large
Jason White, Member-at-Large

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