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3 Best Shoes for Soccer Referee

3 Best Shoes for Soccer Referee

Going through the lengthy process of becoming a soccer referee is tough. However, once you become a professional referee, you will discover that picking the right shoe is even tougher.

In soccer, apart from the 22 players representing each team during a match, some individuals are vested with the task of controlling and coordinating the game. These people are referred to as the referees.

Just like the soccer players, referees run around the pitch and make sharp turns (sometimes even jump to avoid obstructing the ball). The only difference between the soccer players and the referee is that the latter is not allowed to play the ball.

Because of their numerous movements on the pitch, they wear soccer cleats that are similar to players’ cleats. FIFA law states that referees are expected to wear footwear with black as its primary color.

Referees are allowed to wear cleats, running shoes, and turf shoes—whichever is comfortable for them to use. Today, it has become almost a norm for referees to wear soccer cleats similar to those worn by soccer players.

Soccer referee on the pitch

According to research, referees cover about 6 to 8 miles during a soccer game, while scrutinizing every action and move that takes place on the pitch. So, wearing a bad shoe can take a toll on the referee.

Wearing the wrong pair can either cause you pain or injury, slow your movement, or constrain you from adequately monitoring the game.

Are you encountering difficulties with buying the right pair of appropriate shoes for your role as a referee?

Keep reading this article to discover some of the mistakes you might have been making. We will also provide you with detailed guidelines on the right way to identify and buy suitable referee shoes.

How to pick suitable shoes for soccer referees

For association football which is played outdoors on natural or synthetic turf, you have to make sure that your choice of footwear is suitable for the surface.

We have seen referees slip and fall. This is not only embarrassing but you can also end up with bruises or sprained ankle or miss an important moment in the game. The proper shoes give the referee the desired comfort, balance, traction, and support.

There are no specific requirements as to what type of shoe referees should put on except that they should have black as their primary color and must not pose a threat to players on the pitch.

Soccer players and referees are not allowed to wear shoes with the following on the pitch;

  • Cleats with a worn plastic or sharp metal studs
  • Any cleat with a front stud

When searching for cleats, go for the ones with proper grip and good support for your ankle and heels. Pay attention to the weather too and choose a pair of shoes that will be able to withstand a heavy downpour or snow.

The right pair of shoes should stay firm in both wet and dry weather conditions. Also, we recommend that you get a pair of cleats that can be easily used on multiple surfaces.

Below are some of the most important features you should look out for when purchasing shoes for soccer referees.

Soccer referee running on the pitch


Getting the right fitting shoe is the key to comfort. It is hard to make a good decision when you are in pain.

The right fit should fit snugly and not be tight in any area. Also, you should be able to wiggle your toes with ease.

Likewise, there should be no more than half an inch gap from your toes to the end of the shoes. If there is too much space in the shoes, it will cause your feet to slide around which may lead to blister formation.

When making your purchase from a physical store, we recommend you try them out first while wearing the socks you will normally wear them with.

It will be a good idea to try out your new shoes at the end of the day. That is when your feet are at their largest.

Ankle support

Soccer referees run and make sharp turns to follow the ball, jump, and do some of the basic movements that soccer players do too. Ankle support can be a big deal if you already have problems with your ankle or have suffered a sprain before.

When necessary, get shoes with a mid-cut upper that grips your ankle. The soles and insoles should also provide an adequate cushion so that you won’t feel every vibration of your foot thumping against the turf.


The weight of a soccer referee’s shoe matters a lot. The lighter the shoes, the more freely the referee can run and cover more distance before losing steam.

Because some soccer games last up to 120 minutes, a light pair of shoes can make the difference between completing the officiating of a game and collapsing from exhaustion.
Soccer referee standing on the pitch


Traction is a very important feature of a referee’s shoe. This feature helps minimize slipping and maximizes stamina.

A shoe with good traction allows the referee to switch direction and carry out other fast movements without losing his or her balance. When a referee wears a shoe with low traction, he or she will be forced to be cautious in every step and this can take their focus away from the game.

You will get better traction if the soles of your shoes are designed for the surface you are using them on. For example, if you use a soccer cleat designed for synthetic turf on natural turf, the grip will not be there and you will also end up damaging the soles of the soccer cleat.


The material used for making a shoe can determine how and where you will use them—if you want them to last.

When it comes to material, you are left to choose between shoes made from natural materials (kangaroo leather, calfskin leather. Pittards leather) or the ones made from synthetic materials.

Each of the materials has its pros and cons. For example, shoes made of leather are usually more durable and can stretch when properly broken in. However, they are usually heavier and more expensive.

Shoes made of synthetic materials are usually cheaper and lighter. However, this comes at the expense of durability and stretchability.

You can hardly achieve any stretch with shoes made from synthetic materials. The downside to this is that if you don’t get a pair that gives you the right snug fit, you will be stuck with the pain forever.

Best shoes for soccer referee

Referees enjoy a bit of freedom when it comes to the type of footwear they can wear to the pitch—as long as the shoes conform to the standards set by the governing body.

There are four types of shoes that a referee is allowed to wear namely running shoes, indoor shoes, cleats, and turf shoes. The only rule here is that the color must be black.

Running shoes: They are more comfortable and extremely lightweight compared to other types of shoes. Perhaps, this is why most referees prefer to wear them. Sadly, running shoes don’t offer adequate traction on grass surfaces.

Indoor shoes: They are mostly used for futsal or indoor games and rarely used for outdoor games. This is because they do not possess extra traction as cleats do.

Cleats: They are known for providing traction on both dry and wet grounds with the help of their stud. Cleats can be hard on the feet if you don’t choose the one designed for the turf you are walking. Perhaps, this is why most soccer referees avoid them altogether.

Turf shoes: They have features that fall in-between running shoes and cleats. Unlike cleats, they are not as hard on the feet but they don’t have much grip for speed like cleats. Turf shoes minimize the chances of slipping when you make a quick turn or run on wet grounds.

Below are some of the best selections of shoes for you:

The best shoe for soccer referees overall: Under Armour Men’s Surge 2 Running Shoe

Under Armour mens Surge 2 Running Shoe, Black (002 Black, 9.5 US
  • NEUTRAL: For runners who need flexibility, cushioning & versatility
  • Lightweight, breathable mesh upper
  • External heel counter for additional support & structure

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Under Armor men’s surge 2 shoe is a running shoe manufactured for runners. It offers a great midsole cushion, versatility, and flexibility.

Also, they have a breathable mesh upper that will help your feet to stay dry throughout the duration of the game. The referee needs to stay focused on the ball at all times and sweaty feet can rob them of that concentration.

Under Armour mens Surge 2 Running Shoe, Black (002 Black, 9.5 US

Also, running shoes are famous for their lightweight. This helps to boost the pace of the referee as well as reduce physical wear—which usually happens with heavier shoes.

This pair of shoes gives superior comfort with their enhanced cushioning around the ankle collar. They are also known for providing an added grip with the presence of an aggressive outsole traction pattern whose knobs are slightly raised.

Its external heel counter feature provides adequate additional support to the users. Overall, it has an appealing design and functions just as nice.


  • Lightweight and breathable allows the referee to run longer
  • Has good cushioning around the ankles and soles
  • Cushioned EVA midsoles
  • Aggressive lug patterns for improved traction


  • Lacks adequate arch support
  • The narrow design makes it uncomfortable for people with wide feet

Best lightweight referee shoe: Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe

Under Armour Men's Charged Assert 8 , Black (001)/White , 10 Wide
  • 4E Sizing built to better fit athletes with extra wide feet
  • NEUTRAL: For runners who need a balance of flexibility & cushioning
  • Lightweight mesh upper with 3-color digital print delivers complete breathability

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Firstly, it is important to mention that this pair of shoes were made from synthetic materials, particularly 84% polyester and 16% Elastane. The material allows the upper to stretch a little and form around your foot.

This shoe is known for its lightweight mesh upper that provides complete breathability that keeps the feet of the referee dry. This is particularly useful on day matches that extend to 120 minutes.

Coming to the material, the presence of durable leather provides stability and locks in your midfoot. This helps the referee to avoid blisters when making sharp turns in an attempt to follow the ball.

It is made of synthetic sole, comes with an EVA sock liner that provides soft step-in comfort, and is highly recommended for referees that want to balance cushioning and flexibility.

Under Armour Men's Charged Assert 8 , Black (001)/White , 10 Wide

This Under Armour running shoe was carefully designed for people who run regularly like soccer referees. Its solid rubber outsole ensures that high-impact zones are covered, thereby reducing the development of pressure points.

Its midsole introduces a charged cushioning using compression molded foam which enhances the shoe’s durability and responsiveness. The biggest selling point of these pairs of shoes is their superior cushioning which offers optimal comfort.

With this pair of shoes, any referee should run around the entire pitch for the entire duration of the game without feeling the pinch or heat on their feet—particularly at the heels. This is most suitable for referees officiating a futsal game.


  • Made from premium synthetic materials
  • Consists of a lightweight breathable mesh upper
  • Charged cushioning compression-molded midsole
  • Extremely comfortable for prolonged use
  • Its soles have patterned grooves which provide a solid grip


  • Confusing sizing makes it hard to find the right fit
  • Seems to fall apart after a few months of moderate use

The best shoe for traction on natural grass and firm ground: Adidas Men’s Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe

adidas Performance Men's Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe,Black/White/Black,12 M US
  • Legendary soccer cleats for stability on firm natural ground
  • Leather upper with premium K-leather in the forefoot for comfort and flexibility
  • Move with explosive speed and traction on dry natural grass with the Firm Ground outsole

Last update on 2023-11-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you watch soccer games frequently, these are the shoes you will mostly see among the referees and other officiating assistants.

This pair of shoes are made from 100% leather. Most referees prefer this because of its close resemblance to what soccer players wear.

Nevertheless, the most impressive feature that makes this pair of shoes a worthy inclusion on our list is its traction. The bottom of the soles has rubber studs for improved traction on firm ground and natural grass.

adidas Performance Men's Copa Mundial Soccer Shoe,Black/White/Black,12 M US

With these, the referee can worry less about slipping or missing their step on an outdoor pitch—and focus more on the game.

The Copa Mundial is a soccer shoe that has a rich leather upper feature that provides an incredible fit and feel. So, you can expect it to last long and mold better around your feet.

To reduce the weight of these shoes so that referees can run faster without feeling like they are hauling dead-weight, the manufacturers make use of EVA midsoles. These features also add to the comfort you will feel when wearing one of them.

Although the Copa Mundial shoe is admirable, it does have a downside. The toe separates from the sole after a short period of intense use and there might even be a hole by the side.

However, we believe the chances of that happening is higher if you don’t get the right fitting pair.


  • Fits out of the box with little or no break in
  • Made from 100% Kangaroo leather
  • Molded studs improve traction on natural grass and firm ground
  • K-leather on the forefoot provides flexibility and comfort
  • EVA midsoles maintain lightweight


  • Runs large making it harder to find the right size


The major work of a referee is tracking the ball and monitoring players for possible infringements. This means that they have to run fast and this will only be possible with the right pair of shoes.

The only rule on the shoe referees can wear has to do with the color. Sadly, there are times when your favorite pair may not come in the acceptable color.

Well, in such instances you can use a DIY technique to overcome the limitation. Simply buy your favorite pair of shoes and use different painting techniques to get them to the acceptable color.

In case you are overwhelmed by the large options on the market, the products we recommended will make a great starting point for your adventure. Just make sure you get the right fit and make your purchase from a reputable store to avoid the delivery of counterfeited shoes.