Ad banner
Ad banner

What It Takes To Be A World Cup Referee

We talked to a former FIFA World Cup assistant referee about what it takes to be part of an officiating crew in the international soccer tournament. Sean Hurd worked as an assistant referee in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on a crew led by Mark Geiger.

We talked to Hurd about his path to the World Cup, what it’s like communicating with international players; his intense fitness regimen; how much World Cup referees get paid; and what it’s like being in the middle of the world’s biggest stage for soccer.

Business Insider tells you all you need to know about business, finance, tech, science, retail, and more.
Subscribe to our channel and visit us at:
BI on Facebook:
BI on Instagram:
BI on Twitter:


Following is a transcript of the video:

{Sean Hurd was an assistant referee at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.}

{Making the cut}

Sean Hurd: I was selected to be part of a crew, and then from there, we were evaluated at various tournaments, and FIFA related events, as well as our domestic league and Major League Soccer. We went through a qualification, and ultimately, in January of 2014, were selected for the World Cup.

It’s extremely competitive. Myself and Mark Geiger were the only two, from the U.S., that were selected. That should tell you right there, just in our own country, how competitive it is, and then, we’ve gotta compete with the rest of the world.

{Only four American referees were selected for the 2018 World Cup.}

Quite honestly, the United States is finally starting to make a mark, in terms of refereeing, in the international scene, but previously, just like a lot of our players, the international scene views us as not being able to be very high level, playing or refereeing.

{His first World Cup match was Colombia vs. Greece.}

Four years later now, in talking about it, I still get goosebumps. The emotions of the game just start to take over. You can hear the crowd roaring. Once we walked out onto the field, then all the nerves went away, and we just focused on the game. It was just a game. It became a simple game again.

{Communicating with players}

Most of the players do speak a little bit of English at the international level. The refereeing aspect, and the playing aspect, are universal. Body language, eye contact. There really were, during that match especially, no communication gaps at all, for the Greek side or the Columb ian side.

{Getting in shape}

Essentially, the referees are trained as if they were the athletes participating in the games. Referees, obviously, have to be physically fit enough to go the entire 120 minutes plus penalties, if necessary. You really treat your body like many of the athletes do. It’s a combination of strength and physical endurance type workouts.


I’m not privy to the financial conditions of this World Cup, but I can only speak to 2014. We received a flat fee, regardless of the number of games that were officiated. The dollar amount was $50,000. So, fairly substantial, and it didn’t matter whether you were the head referee, or the assistant referee, or fourth official.

{Working two jobs}

So, I’m in the financial services industry, and very fortunate to have the opportunity to be in a position where most of my job entails emails, or conference calls, so I can do that remotely. Some people have to part ways with their career, and put their careers on hold to be able to fulfill the requirements of FIFA and the World Cup.

Seeing the world come together, on one stage, and put aside, kind of, all of the different political things and, really, just getting behind what’s, quite simply, a game. Just the overall experience of being part of the world’s game on such a stage was quite amazing.

(Visited 6 times, 1 visits today)

You Might Be Interested In