How Much Do Soccer Referees Earn [2023]

How Much Do Soccer Referees Earn
(Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas – Pool/Getty Images)

In football, referees are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the rules of the game are strictly followed by the players, staff, and managers.

They are authoritative voices on the pitch and usually have extensive knowledge about the rules and regulations of soccer.

A good referee should always remain neutral when making decisions that could influence the outcome of the game.

Furthermore, referees are expected to possess interpersonal skills — like having a good sense of judgment, excellent communication as well as the ability to resolve disputes.

Despite the fact that match officials earn extremely low wages compared to players, they receive a lot of negative attention (and sometimes hatred) from fans, players, managers, and the media.

Moreso, the introduction of the Video Assistant Referees (VAR) to football has made the work of referees more difficult, with plenty of controversy surrounding the new technology.

Nonetheless, this article aims to answer the questions; How much do soccer referees make? What determines how much a soccer referee earns? Let’s find out.

How much do soccer referees actually earn?

There is no straightforward answer to this question because referees operate in many different leagues with varying price structures.

How Much Do Soccer Referees Earn
(Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas – Pool/Getty Images)

The average salary of a football/soccer referee is about £31,000 per year.

The more experienced a referee is the higher his/her pay. The reputation of a referee is also important, as competition organizers look for the most reliable referees.

Furthermore, location, competition, and how frequently they officiate also influence their salary.

In the UK, for example, amateur referees work on a game-by-game basis, and their match fee is dependent on the local football associations. Their pay is usually between £20 and £40 per game.

At the lower leagues of the English football pyramid, referees (mostly semi-professional) receive match fees as well as other expenses.

They are paid around £80 per game and also get transport allowances.

Championship referees receive basic yearly retainer between £38,500 and £42,000 based on their experience. They also get game fees for each match.

Premier League referees receive salaries that ranges between £38,500 and £42,000 based on experience.

They also collect match fees separately, which is estimated to be £1,150 per game.

As a result, EPL referees can earn up to £70,000 per year.

Other top soccer leagues in Europe pay referees on a match-by-match basis.

In Spanish La Liga, soccer referees receive £5,200 per match.

In the German Bundesliga soccer referees make £3,150 per match.

In the Italian Serie A soccer referees earn £3,000 per match.

In the French Ligue 1 soccer referees make around £2,400 per match.

While in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, referees make £1,000 for each match.


How much do soccer referees make Bjorn Kuipers
(Photo by Shaun Botterill – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)


For UEFA competitions (Champions League, Europa League, and Conference League), UEFA ranks referees, assistant referees, and fourth officials according to various categories.

Likewise, their salaries are paid according to their respective categories.

The first and highest category are the Elite Referees who receive $10,000 per match, while the assistant referees take home $3,000.

The officials under UEFA’s Elite category of referees are the most experienced ones. They require a minimum of 5 to 6 years of experience officiating in their domestic leagues.

Secondly, there is the Elite Development category, which earns $6,500, while the assistants get $2,000. Most of the the best football referees in the world are in this category.

Then there are the First category officials who take home $3000, and the assistants receive $750.

Then the Second category gets $2,000 (assistants $550).

Lastly, there are the Third category referees, who collect $1,000 per game (assistants $350).

In addition to these match payments, UEFA referees are also given €200 daily allowance for meals during their travels. There is also another €200 one-time lump sum for domestic travel expenses.

The top referees in the MLS earn an average of $50,000 annually.

FIFA World Cup referees get a basic pay of $70,000.

They earn $3,000 for group stage matches and $10,000 in the knockout stages.

While in the Confederation of African Football (CAF), soccer referees are paid about $500 to $750 to officiate matches in the African Cup of Nations. The best soccer referees in Africa were paid that amount.

How much do female soccer referees get paid?

The salaries of female soccer referees slightly differ from that of their male counterparts, especially when they officiate matches in women’s football tournaments.

Female soccer referees on the average make around $1,500 to $1,000 per match they officiate.

However, the salaries of referees in women’s football vary according to the league. For example, in the English Women’s Super League, females referees earn about £750 per match.

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