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MLS 2024 season start in danger as referees confirm strike action

American soccer has been plunged into crisis after it emerged a referees strike in the United States is set to commence just weeks before the new MLS season begins.

The Professional Referees Organization (PRO) and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) have failed to reach an agreement regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.

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“The union representing MLS referees voted unanimously to strike if there is no new labor agreement with PRO by January 31,” The Athletic’s Tom Bogert said on X, formerly Twitter.

“The work stoppage seems all but certain. One source puts it at 99%. MLS would use replacement referees if that happens.”

At the moment, the negotiations are ongoing with the economic issues the main topic, especially for those PSRA members who receive a really low income, but PRO presented a proposal in which salaries were increased very little.

As reported by The Athletic, another point of conflict is the PSRA’s complaint to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that PRO spoke directly to members of the Referees Association to reach individual agreements.

Why are referees striking in the United States?

The current collective agreement between the PRO and the PSRA dates from the beginning of 2019. Almost four years later, on the part of the referees’ guild, big changes are expected for the future in terms of their rights and conditions.

This agreement already expired after the January 15 deadline passed, and as it stands, no agreement has been reached on the new brief.

The position of both bodies is still relatively distant in terms of the negotiated conditions, and it is likely that a strike lasting several months will materialize.

This would almost certainly force senior MLS officials to look for referees outside its borders for the start of the season.

This is common practice in other countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but it would represent a major expense and it remains to be seen if it can be arranged in time for the first round of fixtures on February 22.



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