Commentators on MLS Season Pass will not be sharing too many opinions on the ongoing referee debacle in the league. As things stand, the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) is in a lockout from the Professional Referee Organization (PRO). PRO determines the match officials for MLS contests, but it is not going with any PSRA officials due to a rejection of a collective bargaining agreement. Consequently, some of the referees PRO has used have come from youth leagues and college officials.

According to a new report from The Athletic, Major League Soccer has told broadcasters to put a cap on comments regarding the situation. That includes omitting any mention that the referees are ‘replacement’ referees. Specifically, MLS told broadcasters not to “belabor the point,” or give it any more time than it needs. Instead, MLS wants broadcasters to save commentary for a brief mention before any games start. Then, that is all the air time the issue needs, according to a memo the league sent out.

“Fans tune in to watch and listen to the game,” the memo read in part. “They aren’t focused on the officials; therefore, we don’t believe it is necessary to belabor the point during the match. It is best to mention the situation in the pregame and move on.”

MLS is in charge of its broadcasts, as it works with IMG to produce the global streams of all games throughout the season. Unsurprisingly, coverage on MLS Season Pass has been supportive of the league rather than critical. Yet, the referees remain a key talking point of the 2024 MLS campaign.

MLS appeased with the performance of referees so far

Two weeks into the MLS season, referees have not been the subject of poor calls. Yet, there has still been some controversy involving the officials. For instance, MLS frantically changed officials just before Inter Miami’s game against Orlando City. Orlando City supporters found a picture of the referee in charge of the game wearing Inter Miami gear. That conflict of interest could have led to some bias in refereeing.

However, MLS remains pleased with how the referees have fared in the two weeks since the league kicked off the 2024 season.

Our Pick:

Includes: Every regular season game, MLS Cup Playoffs, Leagues Cup, & More

Sign Up

In this memo to commentators, the league said it does not want broadcasters to go mute on their opinions of all refereeing decisions. Yet, the league does not want to blame those calls on the fact that they are ‘replacement’ referees. MLS included example language on how to deal with controversial decisions.

Referee lockout ongoing in MLS

The memo also mentioned that the negotiations between PRO and PSRA are ongoing, but the replacement referees will be in place for the foreseeable future. That includes the next batch of games coming this weekend. While MLS teams are active in continental competition with the CONCACAF Champions Cup midweek, there are the usual 14 games next weekend.

Commentators and broadcasters on MLS Season Pass will be on the call for each game. However, do not expect extensive conversation on the referee lockout, even if there are controversial decisions throughout the games.


Guide to Major League Soccer

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of MLS Season Pass!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
Season Pass FAQ: We answer your questions about MLS Season Pass
Sign up: Learn how to subscribe to MLS Season Pass
Commentators: Check out who's calling the action for the MLS season
Android users Tips for fans Android users on how to watch MLS Season Pass