Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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66 replacement referees lined up for MLS season start, sources say

The Professional Referees Organization (PRO) has a plan in place ready to be executed for exactly who will be MLS’ replacement referees with the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) locked out, sources briefed on the plan tell The Athletic.

PRO has commitments from a total of 66 officials, according to those sources. Of those, 26 can be assigned as a center referee or fourth official and 29 can be an assistant referee.

Additionally, PRO general manager Mark Geiger will be available as a video assistant referee. Geiger refereed in MLS from 2004-19 and was a listed FIFA referee from 2008-19, becoming the first American to referee a World Cup knockout game, which he did in 2014. He then refereed the 2018 World Cup as well before retiring the following year.

The center referees include 11 options with experience in the top three divisions of Brazil, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico and Poland. Ten are former or current national referees in US Soccer and multiple were recommended and work Division 1 college soccer.

Four of the assistant referees have professional experience in other countries, including Brazil, Cuba, Peru and El Salvador.

PRO management who have been certified by International Football Association Board (IFAB) in the past or have worked games at FIFA competitions as the video assistant referee will be used in that capacity.

Matches hosted by any of MLS’ three Canadian-based clubs will be serviced by Canada Soccer.

The last lockout in 2014 between PRO and PRSA saw seven officials who started as replacement refs went on to have careers in PRO.

That 2014 season culminated with MLS Cup, where current PRO GM Geiger was the center referee. One of the assistant referees? Peter Manikowski, president and chief negotiator for PSRA.

Required reading on eve of 2024 MLS season

(Photo: Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)

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