I’ve been in touch with representatives of Official Sports and have some further details about the new USSF referee uniforms.
The new shirt style is a big departure from the outgoing version. Stylistically, there are a lot of similarities with the Adidas referee shirts, with only the stripes under the pockets and on the cuffs of the sleeves recalling the outgoing design. This is in keeping with OSI’s design goal of an “updated, sleek look.”
A Brand New Style
Two breast pockets are closed with velcro and utilize a small black pull tab to open.
The right sleeve features the USSF Referee Program logo, complete with updated US Soccer logo.
Collars on the outgoing-style shirt were prone to not laying flat; the new smaller collar should be less problematic.
The traditional button placket has been replaced with a sleek black zipper. That the zipper is much more narrow than the button placket adds to the modern look of the shirt.
The side panels of the shirt are a mesh material, which should improve airflow through the shirt.
OSI states that the new shirts are lighter in weight and feature a much more athletic cut. After seeing the jersey in person, and speaking with referees who have worn them, I can confirm this is the case. The new shirt is significantly lighter, owing to using less material, and probably to changes to the materials themselves.
Sizing It Up
Sizing of the new shirt is somewhat different, as the cut of the shirt is more narrow in the body and shoulders, and the sleeves are shorter and tighter, according to OSI. Referees are encouraged to check the sizing information on the OSI website before selecting a size. Based on the size guide, I ordered a large, while I wore an extra large in the outgoing style. Even if your shirt size doesn’t change based on the new sizing chart, OSI reports that some referees are moving down a size to achieve a sleeker, more athletic look.
There is finally a women’s version of the shirt. The women’s cut features a tapered bodice, smaller shoulders and shorter sleeves when compared to the men’s version.
Color My World
5 colors will continue to be standard in the new style, with yellow (pictured) replacing gold. The other colors – red, green, black and blue – are similar to the current style, but a bit “brighter” according to OSI.
Pricing and Availability
The new Pro shirt will sell for $48.95 in short-sleeve and $49.95 in long-sleeve. Compared to the current shirt, the new shirt price is an increase of $3 and $4, respectively, over the new styles. The increase of about 7% seems reasonable, given that OSI has not raised prices on shirts in several years. Keep in mind that shipping is not included in the price.
An Economy version of the shirt is available as well, and the feature differences from the Pro version are about the same as the currently style (open, V-neck collar and no velcro closures on the pockets for the downscale version).
The yellow and green short-sleeve version of the shirt is available for order now on the OSI website. The red shirts can be seen on the site, but are not currently available for order. Blue and black versions in both long and short sleeves will be available in November. Long sleeve versions of yellow, green and red are expected in mid-August.
The women’s cut Pro version of the yellow shirt is available now.
OSI states that all economy starter kit orders will now feature the new style shirt and should start shipping by the end of July. This will aid Referee Instructors and assignors, as we won’t have to tell new referees which shirt to order; new Starter Kit orders will receive the new shirt.
OSI also introduced a Pro Starter Kit, which features the Pro shirt and pro shorts in place of the Economy versions, as well as the USSF two-stripe socks (3 pcs. total). The Pro starter kit pricing offers an effective discount of 12% when compared to buying the items separately.
Keep It Short
The Pro version of the shorts are not changing, save for the updated US Soccer logo embroidered on the right leg. OSI plans to offer a new Women’s Pro Short by the end of August.
OSI says that USSF says the current jerseys can be worn through the 2018 season, which is a generous transition period. I confirmed with USSF crews on youth games will be allowed to mix styles, as new referees will have only the new style shirt.
I like the new style. It’s current and fresh and fits much more appropriately for officials who should be reasonably fit. I like the use of the thick/thin stripe as a nod to the outgoing style, which, let’s face it, has been with us for many, many years. (I don’t count the change from the pin stripe to the thick/thin stripe as a major change). The shirt is much lighter and comfortable, and the yellow should rarely be in conflict with a team color. All in all, I welcome these changes as long overdue.