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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 24736

Law 5 - The Referee 3/27/2011

RE: competitive Under 15

aw of ridgefield, ct usa asks...

If I had a nickel for each time you have responded to a question with, 'this should be covered in your pre-game meeting with your assistants,' I would be an extremely wealthy man. Given the fact that I do not want my AR's to arrive 10 hours before game time so we can go over every possible scenario, what are your suggestions for mandatory topics of the pre-game meeting? Certainly these topics would be different depending on the experience of the officiating team. Your responses are always greatly appreciated and have no doubt elevated the level of officiating of this great game.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

In the most recent question this is a fundamental repeat instruction for officials that should happen in all pregame discussions. If the referee has clearly made an error in law or an error in judgement then the referee will want his ARs to intervene to point this out.
If officials act as a crew regularly then different points/ scenarios can be discussed in each pre match discussion and as a result a decent level of understanding between the officials can be achieved over a period of time. Also if it is covered previously by a referee the experienced AR will remember the instruction even if its not stated in every game.
My style is to walk around the field of play with both assistant on the pitch inspection and to use that as an aide memoir of what I want to say to the ARs. So it starts out at the half way line in front of the TA by outlining the details of the match and whether it poses any particular challenges from my knowledge of the teams, deciding the senior AR who will take over and what happens from then on, diagonal, technical area managements, substitutes, moving along the field of play throw ins, offside, corner kicks, goalkicks, penalty area calls, penalty kicks, hairline goals. I will finish off by covering VC, dissent, confrontation, unseen flags/incidents/errors. I will say something about each point such as substitutes - number, seated, where to warm up etc, throw ins - ball over the line all along the touchline, in ARs half I will look for his direction, follow my direction in my half, ARs to look for foot faults, I will do throwing motion etc.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

If I had a nickel for every time I've had to ask referees if they covered an issue in their pregame as we debrief in an assessment, I could take us all out for a very nice dinner! :-)

The length of the pregame depends a great deal on the level of the game, the experience of the officials involved both with the game itself and each other, and a few other factors. As Ref McHugh notes, there are some things to be discussed in every pregame - the length and depth depends on many things. Another very important factor for the referee is to figure out the level of knowledge of the crew and tailor the pregame accordingly. Assuming too much knowledge will bite back in a game - assuming too little is easily fixed with responsive ARs. If the ARs are the experienced ones, they can be a great help to the referee by asking lots of questions about what to do in this situation or that.

By the way, there is a great pregame article by Gil Weber on this website. As he says, you won't use all of it all the time, but at least it gives some reference for what can and needs to be covered or considered.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

I find that most pregames are not thoughtful. If the referee has prepared for the match, the referee doesn't simply repeat the same pregame from last week. It doesn't need 10 hours. If the best referees in the world have a strong pregame, why should lessor ones skip them?

Consider the players. Have the teams played before? How does this match fit in with advancement or relegation? The internet gives lots of insight. The opponents know who scores the goals, who sets up play. The referee team should too.

Consider stressful match situations. What are the most important issues that may come up in a match? Is it a penalty? Is it a goal? Is it offside? The referee is likely to get the response the referee wants if the referee lets the assistants know what response the referee wants.

What are the most important problems? Consider the age of skill of the players. We aren't discussing handling mass confrontation in a GU11 match. But, we will in a BU17 match. Every time. Beginning of the season - players (and referees) will be tired in the last 10 minutes. Focus needs to redouble. My experience is the way to minimize what happens is to be ready for them.

Professionals prepare, and the pregame is a big part of it. You can cover a lot in ten minutes. You can cover more as you inspect the field together. You can cover more as you head toward the teams during and after check-in.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

The reason we keep hammering this is because most referees do an abysmal job at their pregame discussions or do none at all. Over the years we have seen on this site so many problems occur that could have been prevented by even a brief pregame discussion. See Gil Weber's excellent article on this topic on our main page.

I would agree that there are certain things that will expand or decrease the amount of time the pregame discussion takes. There are a few referees I work with so often that we have no pregame other than ask each other if there's anything one of us knows about the teams the others should be aware of.

We all know that there are times especially at tournaments that there will be very little time for a pregame, certainly not the 30 minutes we all would like. But, even if rushed, a few things should be gone over. The goals MUST be checked and MUST be anchored. If working with ARs I don't know, I need to know their level of experience and have some idea of their confidence. I always tell them offside is their #1 priority and they must try to be in proper position. They need to run the ball to the goal line whenever possible. If I have made a mistake they have to get my attention no matter what. that also goes for anything they think I need to know about. I tell them to use the signals in Procedures and to please not make up any new ones as I won't know what they are doing. Against the Powers That Be I tell my ARs to snap their flags. I may not see them but I'm likely to hear the flag. Please mirror the other AR. Call fouls if you are sure I didn't see it and to take into consideration if I would have called it had I seen it. If they don't know who last touched a ball before it went into touch, just make sure I know the ball HAS gone into touch and shrug your shoulders and I'll make a fool out of myself. Let me know immediately if a coach is abusing you. Don't retrieve any balls off the field. The coaches side AR has the authority to check in late players and to ok equipment changes or blood. If you disagree with a call I made go ahead and give your signal but if I wave it down or stick with my call, don't insist unless you are sure I have made an error in Law, carded the wrong player, or awarded a goal that didn't count or let play continue when a goal actually did occur. If need be, we can talk.

Now all that can be gone over in 3 minutes.

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