Soccer referees have a difficult and thankless job, and they know that they are doing it well when both sides are upset with them. There are parts of the world where soccer is followed with an almost religious fervor, and fans comfortable in their armchairs may wonder why anyone would voluntarily expose themselves to such ridicule and verbal abuse. They may also wonder how referees are able to put up with the theatrical or underhanded antics of some players.
A tough job
Official in many sports have a far easier time than soccer referees. Sports leagues such as the NFL employ large teams of umpires, linesmen and referees to officiate games backed up by video replay personnel, but soccer referees are usually on their own. Two linesmen and an assistant may provide help in some situations, but referees generally make most of their major calls without consulting them. The earnings of referees vary wildly, and those officiating minor games between amateur sides generally make far less money than the referees employed by major sports leagues.
How much do referees make in the US?
Major League Soccer pays its referees for each game they officiate according to their level of experience. There are four experience levels, and per game compensation ranges from $700 for a level four referee with less than 20 games under their belt to $1,100 for a level one referee who has officiated 76 games or more. While this may seem paltry when compared to the salaries earned by some of the league’s top players, it is still a reasonably good paycheck for less than two hours of work.
How much do referees make in Europe?
Soccer is far more popular in Europe, and referees in the top European leagues are among the world’s best paid sporting officials. The English Premier League is the most popular of the lot, and its referees are paid about $1,400 per game on top of a basic salary of more than $90,000. Referees working in Italy and Spain make even more per game than their British colleagues. Italy’s Serie A referees earn approximately $3,800 for their 90 minute shifts while those officiating La Liga games in Spain are paid almost $7,000 per game. In addition to their salaries and match day paychecks, European referees are usually compensated for their travel, food and accommodation expenses.
How much do World Cup referees earn?
The FIFA World Cup is the pinnacle of soccer, and the 10 grade one referees selected to officiate during the quadrennial tournament are considered to be the world’s best. They are each paid $50,000 for devoting two months of their time to the tournament. However, many FIFA international referees are not so lucky, and many of them hold down part-time jobs to suppliment their soccer incomes.