Replacement ref for Inter Miami match changed after photos of him wearing Inter Miami shirt discovered

The Professional Referee Organization (PRO) announced referee assignments for Saturday’s match involving Inter Miami and Orlando City, initially listing Guiherme Ceretta as the center referee, but has since replaced Ceretta with Jamie Herrera, according to PRO’s official assignment list.

The change was made after it came out on social media that Ceretta had several photos of himself in an Inter Miami kit. The X account MLSRefStats first brought the photos to light. Herrera was initially listed as the fourth official for the match. Ivan Cid Cruz is now the fourth official.

“Referee Guiherme Ceretta was removed from the game due to a potential conflict,” PRO said in a statement to The Athletic.

Herrera officially replaced Ceretta within hours of the photos being posted on social media. The assignments were announced at 9 a.m. ET and the change made by 11:45 a.m. ET. The game between Miami and Orlando kicks off at 4:30 pm E.T.

PRO and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) remain at odds over negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement, so all referees are “replacement refs,” and not part of the PSRA and typical MLS refs.

On Friday, MLS executives sent a memo to the league’s board of governors stating they were “pleased” with the performance of the replacement officials’ performance in the first week of the season, citing internal metrics. In response, the PSRA pointed to increased usage of VAR, other pace-of-play metrics, and “soft skills” developed by PSRA referees.

“Refereeing in the professional divisions is driven by experience-guided situational awareness, knowledge of the rules, and expert communication,” PSRA president Peter Manikowski wrote to The Athletic. “The locked-out officials display these at the highest level.”

GO DEEPER

MLS execs ‘pleased’ with replacement refs

The Athletic reported on Friday that PRO had notified the PSRA that a previous week’s contract offer to the officials would remain on the table until midnight on Monday, March 11. They added that if that offer is not accepted and ratified, its next offer to the PSRA would include “less favorable terms in some areas,” according to multiple sources briefed on negotiations.

PRO’s team of replacement referees, which includes college and youth referees and a large crop of officials who have experience refereeing lower-division games, handled MLS’ opening weekend with PRO and the PSRA unable to reach terms before the season’s start.

PRO — the organization that oversees professional refereeing in the United States and Canada and assigns referees to MLS matches — locked out its officials represented by the PSRA on February 18 after a pair of temporary extensions to the previous labor agreement between PRO and the PSRA expired, and the PSRA’s membership resoundingly rejected the initial proposal put together by negotiators.

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(Photo of Lionel Messi: Shaun Clark / Getty Images)

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