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Question Number: 31667

Other 8/1/2017

RE: Under 18

john of new orleans, la usa asks...

This isn't a question for the crew, more a complaint about a part of referee culture.

Official Sports has released yet another new uniform design and it really annoys me. They used the old single stripe uniform for years, and maybe 4 years ago switched to the wider solid stripe design and wanted people to buy all new of those. Now they have gone with a completely different model with different shades of colors, within 5 years of the last release, and will make referees buy a set of those now as well

What is the purpose of them doing this? What was wrong with the older uniforms? There were enough colors that you would never have conflict with teams in your games

It seems like Official Sports does this a few times a decade as just another money grab. And not only a money grab, but think about how most new referees are kids and suddenly they (or their parents) need to buy $200+ worth of new uniforms and it drives some away from refereeing at all

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
Is this not a USSF decision rather than a decision by a commercial company? . In Europe at the higher levels Adidas brings out a new design every single year for UEFA competition . Umbro do it regularly in the EPL There is no compulsion in our branch for referees to buy new kit at the grass roots level except where referees want their own kit to be current. One of the problems we face is that if a new referee comes along we are not able to source the *older* kit as it is now out of stock. That causes problems in the teams of three as the new referee has to borrow older kit.
Now the other side of this is that I knew of one referee that had the same kit for I would say at least 15 years. He made no effort to update and there was no compulsion to do so. I also think that some refs look after their kit well while others do not with all sorts of wear, tears, threads, fading etc.
As regards costs I do not think that those at the top level fully grasp the grassroots challenges and they tend to focus more on the elite and higher grades. It is never a problem for the elite refs.
I believe the important part is to look professional, well kited out and that is best done with new modern kit. It is a matter of opinion as to whether 5 years is appropriate and that is up to the decision makers.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
Checking this online, it appears that the new kits you refer to were introduced in 2016 but according to various sources I saw, there is a grace period until 2018, at which time referees are 'expected' by the USSF to wear the new style kit though I'm not aware that they are obliged to get the kit from a specific manufacturer. I didn't actually come across anything saying that wearing the new kit was mandatory or specifying any action if it were not worn.

I have to agree with you that buying new shirts in all the different colours might prove a little expensive, especially for younger referees or those on lower incomes but I did also notice that the OSI shirts come in 2 versions, Pro and Economy with the Economy versions a little cheaper at $25.95 for the short sleeve shirts and $26.95 for the long sleeve version.

I also found at least one other manufacturer selling the new style shirts with prices slightly lower than OSI.

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