Major League Soccer referees set to return with new collective bargaining agreement in place

MLS referee

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USA TODAY Sports

The labor impasse that kept Major League Soccer’s referees out of commission for the first two weeks of the regular season has ended, and the league’s top-choice officials will be back on the field this weekend.

The governing body for the league’s officials – the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) – announced Thursday that it has reached its first-ever collective bargaining agreement with the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA), ending a lockout that forced replacement officials into duty for the first two weeks of the season.

Although terms of the agreement were not made public, the contract will last five years. According to a release from the PSRA, the agreement was reached with the help of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

“We are looking forward to having our referees back on the field and officiating games,” PRO general manager Peter Walton said in a statement. “The new agreement will provide important benefits to our referees while ensuring that PRO will be able to achieve its goal of developing and employing world-class referees for the competitions we serve.”

Added MLS Commissioner Don Garber: “We are pleased that PRO and the PSRA have finalized a five-year collective bargaining agreement. We are happy to have our regular referees back on the field for this weekend’s games.”