There will still be school teachers, accountants and truck drivers refereeing MLS and international games in the USA, but now there will also be full-time professional referees in the middle.
U.S. Soccer has launched a program to employ refs full-time, which exists in only
a few nations, including England, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
"This new program will give our best referees the opportunity to focus all of
their energies on enhancing the performance of our elite officials on the
field," said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati.
The program begins with the hiring of four refs: Jair Marrufo, Ricardo
Salazar, Baldomero Toledo and Terry Vaughn.
"The implementation of this program and the hiring of these four professional
referees is an important first step," added Gulati. "Moving forward, I expect
this program to continue to grow alongside the rest of the sport in the United
In 2006, U.S. Soccer referees worked 126 international matches in the United
States alone, as well as officiating in numerous international tournaments
outside of the country. Additionally, 23 U.S. Soccer referees worked 182 MLS
games last year.
"This is a wonderful progression for our referee program," said Esse Baharmast,
U.S. Soccer's Director of Advanced & International Referee Development. "We have
made great strides as a soccer country through the years and a program like this
will allow the elite professionals in this country to focus on the craft of
being a referee."
U.S. Soccer's first four full-time pro refs:
U.S. Soccer ref since 1996 and MLS ref since 2002. Son of former FIFA referee
Antonio Marrufo of Mexico. Grew up in Texas. Reffed 2006 MLS Cup. Previously
worked as a product specialist with Sherwin-Williams.
FIFA ref since 2005 and MLS ref since 2000. Illinois product. First
international match was a friendly between South Korea and Mexico in front of
almost 70,000 fans at the Los Angeles Coliseum in February of 2006. Prior to
joining U.S. Soccer full time, worked as an insurance agent. Resides in Elgin,
FIFA ref since 2006 and MLS ref since 2003. Completed his schooling in Mexico.
Previously an assistant production manager at a Le Chef bakery plant. Lives in
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif
Iowa-native has been U.S. Soccer since 1987 and a FIFA referee since 2004. First
international assignment was Jamaica-Guatemala in 2004. Reffed several 2006 FIFA
World Cup qualifying matches. Was the Director of Referees for Iowa Soccer and
also worked in security.