Major League Soccer
US Soccer

Rivero aiming high

Sept 5, 2013

The Professional Referee Organization is tasked with making a mark on officiating standards in North America. 

And for one of the younger officials on the circuit, it has certainly done that in a relatively short space of time.

Jose Carlos Rivero made his officiating debut in Major League Soccer in 2012 but has been in and around locker rooms and soccer stadiums since he was three.

“My family has played a big part in my career as I come from a family that have all officiated - we are all referees,” explained JC - as he is affectionately known - when he started to reflect on the particularly moving story behind his drive to succeed in officiating.

“My grandfather was a FIFA referee as well as a FIBA referee, he was a soccer and volleyball international referee in Peru. He went to World Cups, Olympics, South American Cups and then he had four sons, one of which became a volleyball referee and the other three became soccer officials. 

“The eldest son, my uncle, along with my father, became professional referees. My uncle became a FIFA referee and my father looked set to be a FIFA referee until he was involved in a car accident.”

The accident that Rivero's father was involved in was in 1994, two weeks before he was due to receive his FIFA badge, and it led to him losing a leg. 

As soon as the accident happened, JC immediately knew his career path. It was mapped out for him.

“I told my father on that day in the hospital that I was going to become a referee.

“When I was 13 my uncle started taking me to amateur tournaments and I used to run the line for him but after my dad's accident I took officiating far more seriously every weekend. 

“I sacrificed going out with friends, I worked from 8am to 7pm every Saturday and Sunday, training and running lines for three years with my uncle, his friends and my dad's friends.

“In my third year I started being given middles every now and again, and that was when we came to the US.”

In the US his career has blossomed. From the local leagues in New York, to the regional tournaments, moving to the nationals, and then becoming a professional referee.

He's now an MLS regular with PRO, being assigned to eight games so far this season, and he is pleased with how far he has come, and the progression of American officiating under PRO.

“It is amazing the way we have grown as referees under PRO. The way they've opened up our mentality to see the game differently and the training is fantastic.

“I can see, not only the field, not only in my work, but in my personal life how my mentality and maturity has improved through training with PRO.

“There are plenty of different cultures within the organization, different ways to view things, and I believe I am very lucky to have the guys at PRO instructing me. 

“They add into the mixture and contribute a lot of tools into the tool box. I just sit and listen to the instructions and think, 'That is great, I'm going to take that with me'. 

“Where we are now is the future, this is the precedence. I believe I have changed my style because I've learnt from the different cultures but it has been a good change, a positive change.”

He may have fulfilled the promise he made to his father beside his hospital bed in 1994, but Rivero still has one main objective on his to-do list.

And after the amount of dedication, determination and spirit he has displayed over the course of his officiating career to date, you can guarantee he will do everything in his power to achieve it.

“Getting the FIFA badge is my ultimate goal because my grandfather has just turned 92 and he has refused to die until he sees me with it.

“He wants to see his only grandchild that followed the officiating career path make it three generations of international officials, he is very passionate about it. Every game I referee is for him and for all of my family that have supported me.

“When I achieved my goal of becoming a professional referee they were all so pleased for me, so now I want to complete the ultimate goal and become a FIFA official.”

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