GBR Referee Pathway Programme

Last Updated 08.09.2022

The Referee Pathway Programme’s (RPP) main purpose is to identify GBR’s top-level domestic referees (L3) and support them to achieve international success as FIE referees. The goal is to create more GBR referees capable of refereeing internationally as a FIE referee at future Olympics and Senior World Championships.

The RPP supports these future FIE candidates through a provision of training, mentoring and competition experiences.

By investing in up-skilling our top referees the intention is that this will help increase the standard of refereeing domestically within BF events with the aim to better support our current and future GBR fencers in their performance goals.

A full description of the RPP as it was originally set out can be found  here.


  1. Increase the influence and reputation that GB have at international level. We will do this by increasing the number of qualified referees active at FIE level who are able to support our international aims and objectives
  2. Increase the standard of refereeing at the highest level of competition in the UK. We will do this by providing active UK based referees the opportunity to further develop their skills.



The RPP is responsible for allocating and providing opportunities for BF international referees to gain the necessary training, international experience and qualifications.

As such those on the Pathway will be allocated opportunities to

  • officiate at EFC level tournaments (to gain EFC ‘C’ level qualifications)
  • officiate on the Junior World Cup circuit (FIE qualifications required)
  • participate in CPD seminars and training days aimed at international level referees organised by BF
  • enter FIE exams


Joining the RPP

It is important to note that once qualified the FIE require a 10 year commitment to refereeing at this level, but enforce retirement the season after your 60th birthday. Referees who are within 10 years of this date are therefore very unlikely to be accepted onto this pathway.

BF runs an open application for those referees who wish to develop their refereeing abilities further.


Additional Considerations

As a member of the RPP, it is worth considering your current life style commitments when planning for your first FIE exam, especially if aiming for selection onto the FIE Master List. The FIE will expect newly qualified FIE referees to be refereeing the mid- latter stages of JWC DE’s  within two years, and preparing for their second weapon FIE exam. Therefore the timing of sitting the first FIE exam is critical so you can dedicate appropriate time in the following 2-4 years to reach the level required to be submitted for the FIE Master List.

Please complete the application form and enclose a brief summary of your recent relevant refereeing experience.

Applications should be made via [email protected]
Once accepted onto the pathway please complete and return the acceptance form to [email protected]


Referee Pathway Register

The Referee Pathway Register is updated annually as part of the annual GBR pathway review to reflect the updated status of each individual referee and can be seen here 

Annual GBR Pathway Review

As part of the annual process for allocating and selecting referees for nominated Internationals BF will conduct a review of the Referee Pathway Programme. This  takes into account the individual referees commitment to British Fencing run competitions and to their international progression towards the FIE qualification.

This review will include

  • Review of the aims and objectives
  • Review the progress of the activities
  • Review of the/any budget and expenditure
  • Assessment of individual applications and expressed CPD requests
  • Current membership of the pathway – re-categorising referees using the internally held Referee Reviewing activities of current members and adjusting Activity log, feedback from and from any British Fencing run FIE mock exams and/or seminars.

As a result of the annual review this page will be updated and republished alongside the current Referee Pathway Programme membership list.

Points also considered ;

  • Purpose of Pathway
  • Planning of seminars
  • Annual review of member’s activity both BF domestic events and Nominated international comps.
  • Prioritising FIE candidates and implementation of intermediate level prior to exam – focused mentoring to enable success at FIE exam
  • Removal of those not complying with pathway conditions

Minimum Entry Criteria


Prioritisation of C Candidates for FIE Exams

In order to sit an FIE exam a referee must have a C level EFC refereeing qualification. These are only valid for two seasons from the award date.

BF will prioritise these FIE candidates with mentoring, preparation and mock FIE exams to support the goal of passing the exam. Candidates unwilling to participate in these training opportunities may be withdrawn from the exam.


Pathway Levels

BF have redefined the pathway levels based on the new C level requirement. These levels are per weapon (ie you can be Candidate C in sabre and Candidate FIE in another)

  • Candidate Senior A (Weapon) – FIE looking for A listing
  • Candidate FIE (Weapon) – candidates for FIE exams in next 3 years (must have C grade)
  • Candidate C (Weapon) – C grade Candidates
  • Candidate D – looking to regularly achieve Domestic Nationals Final
  • Inactive – ie those who temporarily cannot commit due to lifestyle reasons

(Associate members are a separate level and will be used to support GB Team needs whilst also recognising their support for BF competitions)

The selection for and attendance at International nominated competitions should prioritise those within the promotable level.


Pathway Development Categories

In addition referees are given the opportunity to further self categorise to better inform the processed around training, development prioritisation of international allocation & selection.

  • FIE – Senior Grand Prix Circuit Referee
  • FIE – Established Active FIE Referee (3 or more seasons recent experience),
  • FIE – Newly qualified at FIE (<3 yrs qualified)
  • FIE – Re-emerging, <3 seasons recent experience
  • FIE – Building experience (generic)
  • FIE – Willing to help out occasionally if required (typically used by Pathway members who may be taking a short break from international activities – e.g. for lifestyle reasons) EFC ‘C’ qualified, aiming for FIE Exams in next 1-2 seasons
  • EFC ‘C’ newly qualified, building experience/confidence, FIE exam 3-4 yrs out
  • Aiming EFC ‘C’ qualification – first weapon
  • Aiming EFC ‘C’ qualification – second weapon (First weapon, FIE qualified 3 or more seasons)
  • Aiming at Level 3, second weapon
  • Other, please describe
  • None specified

Minimum Criteria to join/remain on the Referee Pathway Programme

In order to remain on the Pathway Programme, referees are required to:

  • Be a member of British Fencing (Supporter level will suffice)
  • Minimum Level 3 qualification
  • Maintain all required international refereeing licences (e.g. EFC/FIE)
  • Actively engage in a positive manner with BF over refereeing matters (eg answering emails in a timely fashion, working in a constructive and supportive manner with BF staff, other Pathway referees and volunteers)
  • Demonstrate a commitment to refereeing at the major fencing competitions in the UK (including but not limited to the BF Championships series – Cadet& Junior, Senior, Youth, School Teams – and the FIE Eden Cup/EFC London Cup.
  • Actively refereeing at international level over and above the nominated opportunities provided by BF e.g. U15 European tournaments, non-nominated EFCs, FIE Satellites
  • Demonstrate a desire to progress and operate at FIE level, acting as a role model and ambassador for British Fencing.
  • Participate in Pathway FIE level training and development opportunities
  • Assist in the development of less qualified Pathway members (eg through supporting, training and mentoring)
  • Maintain an exemplary disciplinary record
  • Act as an ambassador for British Fencing

Referees wishing to remain on the pathway will be expected to maintain a refereeing diary which they can provide on request, typically as part of the annual International Allocation & Selection process.

BF reserve the right to remove referees from the Pathway Programme or remove them from allocated opportunities if one or more of the minimum criteria is not met.


Exceptions and Dispensations

Becoming an International Referee is typically a process that takes many years and during this time it is expected that allowances will need to be made to adjust for ‘lifestyle’ and short term (1-2 seasons) dispensations and exceptions will be granted.

Examples include – work secondments abroad, University exams, family commitments, health issues.

During this period, referees may choose to be designated as Inactive if they are unable to referee at all.


Membership Status/Exit from the Pathway

The default status of a member of the Programme is ACTIVE.

Whether through lifestyle choices or lack of ability it may not be always possible for referees to progress through the pathway. Membership of the pathway will be considered on an annual basis (typically as part of the annual International Allocation & Selection process) and the status of members may be updated as a result.

A visible and demonstrated commitment to all British Fencing run domestic competitions will also be taken into consideration when reviewing an individual referee pathway status.

Non Active Pathway members will be registered as:

  • INACTIVE – Normally years due to life style/ personal circumstances. Valid for a maximum of 2 years. This will be clearly marked on the register.
  • TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED – Based on a failure to meet one or more of the criteria of membership of the Pathway. Usually based on lack of demonstrable involvement in refereeing at BF run National Championships and/or engagement in Referee training and development. Valid for a maximum of 1 year until either a) a positive commitment is shown towards the Pathway goals and attending BF run competitions or b) referee is removed from Pathway.
  • REMOVED – Based on a continued failure to meet Pathway Membership criteria. Can also be due to concerns over the referee’s ability/lack of appropriate progress. Should circumstances change, pathway members are at any time permitted to re-apply for re-inclusion.
    All reasonable attempts will be made to make contact with referees individually to discuss status changes prior to implementation.


Appendix A – British Fencing Competitions

Pathway members are expected to make themselves available for British Fencing run competitions throughout the year, including:

  • National Championships (Cadet, Junior and Senior)
  • The British School Teams Championships
  • The British Youth Championships
  • The Eden and Leon Paul Cups (weapon and qualification dependent)

Additionally, if unable to attend the above competitions Pathway members should prioritise availability for the following:

  • British Schools teams
  • GB Cup

Pathway Member are also expected where possible to support BRC events run throughout each season.


From 2023 GB Pathway Referees should use the attached GBR National Competitions Referee Exemption Form to request exemption from attending any of the above BF national competitions.



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