FIFA’s decision to eliminate the age limits for international referees has been confirmed by the Circular no. 1497, recently sent to all national associations. There will be no more maximum age for first time nominations (38) and no more retirement age (45). In order to be nominated for the 2016 list, referees must be born no later than 1990 and assistant referees must be born no later than 1992 in order to ensure a minimum level of experience. FIFA reserves the right to require referees over the age of 45 (born in 1971 or before) to undergo additional technical assessments as well as specific medical examinations and fitness testing on a case-by-case basis. Each candidate must be ranked based on the marks obtained for officiating games at the national level during the 12 months prior to being nominated to the list of international referees, not in alphabetical order. At a minimum, all nominated referees must pass a FIFA-approved fitness test and a medical examination on or after 18 June 2015. The deadline to nominate international referees for the upcoming year is 18 October 2015.
Regulations governing the registration of international referees, assistant referees, futsal referees and beach soccer referees on FIFA's lists:
Each year, FIFA publishes a list of referees, a list of assistant referees, a list of futsal referees and a list of beach soccer referees who are eligible to officiate at international matches. These lists come into effect on 1 January and are valid until 31 December of the same year.
The FIFA Referees Committee shall draw up the lists of international referees, assistant referees, futsal referees and beach soccer referees in compliance with the articles of the FIFA Statutes.
Each year, the FIFA Referees Committee shall request each member association to nominate candidates whom they consider qualified to act as an international referee, assistant referee, futsal referee or beach soccer referee.
Lists shall be compiled for referees, assistant referees, women referees, women assistant referees, futsal referees, women futsal referees, beach soccer referees.
When nominating a candidate, the member associations shall observe the following conditions:
1. Candidates may be nominated for only one list.
2. Member associations that do not have an organised league may not make any nominations.
3. The maximum number of referees from each association shall be decided annually by the FIFA Referees Committee, taking the following factors, among others, into account:
3.1. The level of refereeing of each association
3.2. The level of competitions of each association
3.3. The professional level of each association’s competitions
4. The proposed referees shall be at least 25 years old (23 years old in the case of assistant referees) on 1 January of the year for which they have been nominated. See also the additional requirements for referees over the age of 45 under article 4 paragraph 7.
5. The proposed referees shall have officiated regularly at matches in the highest division in their country for at least two years.
6. Only candidates who have officiated more often as assistant referees than as referees in the previous twelve months may be considered for the list of international assistant referees.
7. The proposed referees shall have passed the appropriate FIFA fitness test related to the list they belong to within the four months prior to the deadline for nomination for the lists of international referees and assistant referees. They shall also have passed a medical examination certifying that they are fit to act as referees within the four months prior to the deadline for nomination for the lists of international referees. FIFA reserves the right to require referees over the age of 45 to undergo additional technical assessments as well as specific medical examinations and fitness testing on a case-by-case basis.
8. Only women referees or women assistant referees who have passed FIFA’s physical fitness test set for men may be nominated for men’s tournaments or matches.
9. Candidates who are injured, ill or pregnant at the time of registration may be approved provisionally until they have passed the above-mentioned medical examination and physical fitness test and FIFA has received official notification of the results.
10. The member associations shall supply FIFA with the rankings of the proposed referees based on the marks obtained at national level. These rankings shall apply only to first division matches at which they have officiated in the twelve months prior to their nomination.
11. The official forms shall be returned, duly completed and bearing the association’s official stamp, to the FIFA general secretariat by the prescribed deadline.
12. Failure to fulfil any of the foregoing conditions will lead to rejection of the candidate in question.
An international referee included in one of the lists for any given year may not be proposed for any other list until a period of twelve months (for specialised training) has elapsed. This period shall begin on the day on which the referee concerned no longer appears on the international list.
A referee proposed for the lists may not exercise any official function as a member of an executive committee, general secretary, or member of the referees committee of any football club, member association, confederation or FIFA.
The FIFA Referees Committee shall decide which nominations will be accepted for the lists of
international referees, assistant referees, futsal referees and beach soccer referees. The committee may consult the confederations before reaching a decision.
The committee reserves the right to decide on the number of referees, assistant referees, futsal
referees and beach soccer referees that it deems appropriate for the lists. When making its choice, the committee is not obliged to accept the ranking mentioned in art. 4, par. 10 above.
The referees selected will automatically be given the FIFA international referee's, assistant referee's, futsal referee's or beach soccer referee's badge, which they shall wear at all of the domestic and international matches at which they officiate during their year of appointment as international referees, assistant referees, futsal referees or beach soccer referees. However, a FIFA assistant referee may not wear the FIFA international assistant referee’s badge in matches at which he is officiating as a referee. The same applies to a FIFA futsal referee or beach soccer referee when officiating at traditional football matches as a referee.
The FIFA Referees Committee reserves the right to suspend or eliminate any international referee, assistant referee, futsal referee or beach soccer referee from the lists on grounds of mediocrity, indiscipline or for any other justifiable reason.
The member associations to which international referees belong may request the FIFA Referees Committee in writing to suspend or remove a referee from the lists for any justifiable reason.
The FIFA Referees Committee reserves the right to decide whether or not to appoint a referee appearing on the international lists.
Decisions passed by the FIFA Referees Committee are final and not subject to appeal.