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3 lessons from George Gansner’s referee career

George Gansner will referee his 200th MLS game on Sunday 3rd of August. I’ts an honour for him to reached this milestone.

George Gansner
George Gansner
“I’ve had some great experiences, learning from the guys who were originals on the FIFA assistant referee list in 1996, which was such a benefit. If I can now teach the younger guys something, that’s huge for me”, he told

Gansner is currently the sixth-most experienced assistant referee on the PRO roster in terms of games officiated. He is happy that his referee organisation now focusses more on the quality of AR’s. “Assistants have always been the forgotten piece and the focus has been on the referees – which is fine – but we need that type of training too and PRO has brought that to the table.”

3 lessons from George Gansner

1. Love it!
I made 10-12 bucks a game, but was doing 4 or 5 games on both Saturday and Sunday. I guarantee you, I made more money than all of my friends. But it wasn’t about the money, although it was nice at the time. You got to do it, because you love it.

2. Set goals in your career

George Gansner plus team.
George Gansner (right) entereing the field of play with the refereeing team.
At the start of his career George Gansner made a plan for refereeing. His chance to referee at a World Cup was 2010. While playing football his college coach asked him to quit refereeing, but Gansner didn’t want to, he told during a PSA referee meeting . He worked hard to reach his goals and became an national referee.

Have you ever considered where your top is and how you could reach that as a referee? Ask yourself when could be the year you’ll be refereeing at the World Cup.

3. You can’t control career
Although setting goals for yourself, you can’t control your career. Some calls during can be crucial for the rest of your career, but you’ll never know what else will happen.

Early in Gansner’s career, only 26 years old, he made a very important call. A ball was barely touched by a player in offside decision, but he noticed it. “Even ESPN has to show three replays that it was the right call”, says Gansner. The first impression of him assistant referee at the highest national level was very good. “Lucky things have to happen in your career.”

In 2002 Gansner became a Fifa referee, but not everything went planned. His hips caused fitness problems, and Gansner failed a fitness test for the Olympics. He thought: “My dream is over now”. After the surgery he could remain an international referee, but did not make it to the 2014 World Cup.

“My goal was to get through the 2014 cycle, whether I got to a World Cup or not,” Gansner told “After that I was always going to consider coming off, and now feels like the right time. Of course I would love to stay on the panel until I’m 45 but I think it makes more sense to step back and let somebody else have the opportunity.” Gansner, now 42, will be too old to serve as an assistant referee at 2016’s World Cup in Russia.

Check out the presentation from George Gansner at the PSA referee meeting

Photo of George Gansner plus refereeing team: Creative Commons via StubbyFingers.

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