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MLS referees strike over after union agrees deal

Striking Major League Soccer referees will return to work this weekend after agreeing a new seven-year labor deal, officials said Tuesday.

The Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), the union that represents officials who referee in MLS, and the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) have ratified a collective bargaining agreement that will run until 2031.

MLS’s elite referees have not officiated any games this season after talks on a new deal stalled just before the 2024 campaign kicked off.

In a statement, both sides said a tentative agreement was reached last week, with PSRA members voting to ratify the deal on Monday. 

“It has been a difficult time for everyone as we worked to reach an agreement,” PRO’s general manager Mark Geiger said in a statement.

“This seven-year term provides enhanced pay and benefits for all officials and the stability that will support the growth of the professional game in the United States and Canada.”

With its regular match officials locked out, MLS deployed substitute referees from the lower tiers of US soccer to officiate in games since the start of the season.

However both MLS players and coaches voiced dissatisfaction with the quality of the substitute refs, accusing them of making a litany of blunders in recent fixtures.

“Players are very clear that the replacements are under-trained, lack experience and are not nearly at the level that a league of @MLS’s stature deserves,” the MLS Players Association, the players’ union, said in a statement earlier this month.

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