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CIF soccer referees boycott 2023-2024 season over failed negotiations for higher pay

Lauren Kaller
Due to CIF labor pay disputes, soccer referees of all high school games, including Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech), decided to go on strike. Members of Ventura County have stepped up to help the local soccer community, saving their 2023 to 2024 high school season.

Due to a dispute over a pay increase, California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section soccer referees have boycotted the 2023-2024 soccer season.

Referees from other sports such as basketball, football, baseball and softball have received a pay increase within the last couple of years. However, soccer referees have not received any increase in pay.

While referees have argued for higher pay, the CIF Southern Section maintains that referees must follow the pay structure that was already negotiated. According to Nick Franek, the interim head coach for Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech) girls’ varsity soccer, “the CIF stance is that the referee’s organizations signed a contract and must abide by it.”

Some Foothill Tech soccer players do agree that the referees should get a raise. Lupita Gonzalez ‘24, center back for the girls’ varsity soccer team, said, “it’s something that they [referees] take time out of their day to do and it’s something that they are passionate about. I think they should be getting their pay raise, especially because they are helping us manage a game.”

The CIF Southern Section Bylaw 1219 outlines what teams should do when a referee does not attend a game. Should this occur, it is the responsibility of the host school to find another official or qualified person to officiate the game. As a result, schools and athletic directors are working on solutions to the referee boycott.

CIF Commissioner of Athletics, Mike West, addressed the pressing matter of the CIF Southern Section boycott by issuing a proactive message. Within this message, he outlined various solutions should referees opt to boycott their assigned games due to pay disputes. These included recommendations such as utilizing assistant coaches as officials, rescheduling games, reaching out to officials from different areas or exploring the possibility of using qualified officiating from nearby universities.

In the wake of this difficult situation, players and coaches are still planning on carrying out a regular schedule of games. ”We know that what is going on behind closed doors to resolve this referees’ strike is out of our control, so we are focusing on what we can control, which is preparing for an excellent 2023-2024 season,” said Franek.

Additionally, players are working to remain optimistic about the forecast of the 2023-2024 season. Christophe Issa ‘25, winger for the Boys Varsity Soccer team, said, “I don’t think it will affect anything because … we are still playing the sport that we love.”

Franek also expressed, “regarding the mood of our players, we are focused on the upcoming season. The mood is great, and we are hyped and excited for our season.”

With the start of the season officially underway, schools are still grappling with the impact of the referee boycott and are hoping that the situation will soon be resolved.

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About the Contributors
Ella Asher, Reporter
A junior who loves the ocean and chai lattes.
Lauren Kaller, Photographer
6'4" baller. 

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