Blog,  tips & tricks

How FA’s can retain talented referees

Jeff-Weiner-linkedinI heared a story of a few talented referees who quit refereeing before they reached the top level. Not because they were not good enough, but they felt they were not treated the right way. Such a waste of quality!

And when I read a story from Jeff Weiner, CEO at LinkedIn, I thought it would be useful for my blog. It gives an answer to how football assocations can retain talented referees – and what referees should do themselves!

And it’s not only 3 musts for national football assocations. If you want to get a better referee you should ask the following 3 things from your FA and work hard to make the most of it:

  1. Mentorship
  2. Career path
  3. Recognition


Jeff Weiner: “The primary role of a mentor in this case is to help the mentee determine what it is they ultimately want to do, and ensure they are well equipped to pursue that path.”

What mentors should do: listen to young referees and help them in their needs.

What refs can do themselves: As a talented referee you maybe need tips for better training, nutrition or you want to improve your non-verbal communication. Tell your mentor what you need and he will provide useful info for you.

Career path

Jeff Weiner: “Understand what it is you ultimately want to accomplish.”

What both mentors and referees should do: talk together and share your expectations of each other. Plus make a plan for your career.

Two important factors here:

  1. The football association should keep promises towards referees
  2. Referees should work hard to achieve the set goals


Jeff Weiner: “Every individual you work with, regardless of their position within the organization, not only wants to be recognized – they need to be recognized. It’s a fundamental part of human nature.”

It’s not just financial compensation. It’s also recognition of hard work. Most professional referees will get a very good match fee, but young refs spend lot of time in their refereeing career without earning a lot. I’ve heard examples of talented referees being a fourth official on Dutch 2nd League on Friday night, having their own game on Saturday, being a mentor themselves of young kids on Sunday and being a 4th official again on Monday. Quite a busy weekend.

FA’s can motivate young refs by giving them recognition for their hard work. Show your appreciation. Give a call after a good assessment, share the good performances of talents on local meetings or ask regularly how they are doing. Get personal!

And the most crucial lesson from Jeff Weiner: “Recognize a job well done (good refereeing performances) consistently and you’ll not only be more likely to retain your most valuable people, you’ll motivate them to do their best work along the way.”


  • Jake

    Also very important, PAY THEM ON TIME. Worked for a guy who tried to retain through guilt and paying them just enough to keep you able to go to the games but not fully paid do you had to keep working in fear he wouldn’t pay you at all if you stopped.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      You have any problems with that? Here the KNVB (Dutch FA) pays us every month. Never had problems with that.

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