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Question Number: 26289

Law 5 - The Referee 5/4/2012

RE: Varsity High School

Rob of Lodi, WI USA asks...

Looking for some suggestions on how to handle a coach who consistently makes the referee crew and the other team wait.

This is Wisconsin High School. This coach and team are consistently late for the pre-game meeting. It is done on purpose. When the referee calls for Captains and Coaches, this Coach deliberately engages with his players and makes sure that the officials team and the visiting team has to wait a few minutes for him and his captains to attend. When the teams are called to shake hands...his team does not break from their huddle until the other team has lined up. When it is time to take the field, his team does not move onto the pitch until the other team has assumed their positions. This is a consistent behavior. It is especially egregious at the start of the second half. Even with a 2 minute and 1 minute warning - his team will wait in their huddle for an additional minute or two before taking the field.

Any suggestions on how to handle this? It has been going on for too long, and is entirely disrespectful to the officials and the other team.

Yellow Card for Dissent? Unpsorting? Delaying the game? Cards to the team Captain or Coach? One thought I had was to start the game without the late team on the field, but I am sure you can imagine the repercussions that would cause!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rob
First off do not consider the start the game with one team option. That is not a viable option in any game.
I feel the referee has to bring his personality to the solution along with the sanctions available to him.
I would be very clear with both coaches as to what I expect. I would tell the coaches that the pre game meeting will commence at X time and that you expect the coach and his captain to be present at that without any delay. If the coach has been tardy I would express my dis-satisfaction with his delay which I would tell him is unacceptable. At that meeting I would be firm and determined in my instructions about the way the game will proceed and it would be given in a cordial manner. I would tell those present at the end that when asked to do so by the referee that it is expected that the teams will without delay respond to the call to line up and that the same will apply after half time. Failure to do so will result in a caution for the coach for unnecessary delay. The instruction is given to both coaches. If the instruction is ignored the referee should go with a strong word to the team with whatever words that is appropriate to take their positions. Even move towards the offending camp. 'Red Team please take your positions immediately'' Any delay, gamesmanship or ignoring of that instruction results in a caution for the coach and a warning that a repeat will result in an ejection.
What tends to happen is that referees accept this poor behaviour and gamesmanship without being assertive, telling the participant what you expect and then using the necessary sanction when it is required.
Coaches persists with this type of behaviour because referees have not imposed themselves on the situation and no disciplinary action has been taken.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Under NFHS rules, you can give a coach a yellow card. (You would want to warn the coach first and encourage him to field his team, but it sounds as if you've already done this and it didn't work.) The caution will give the coach notice that you are not going to put up with his delaying tactics any further, and the report you file will document his actions with the state HS athletic authority. The school athletic director may also become involved.

If he persists in delaying things, you show a second yellow with a red card, and send him from the field and surrounds. That definitely will get the attention of his school administration and the state authorities.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It needs to be written in the match report with a copy to your assignor. Without reports, there is not way for the conference to know that this is done 'consistently.'

Some options:

A. When you meet and greet the coaches, tell them what time the pregame will begin and get an acknowledgement. The coach can then plan. The coach is focussed during the last 15 minutes before the match, and it is easier to become an important part of the schedule than an interuption. Moreover, discussing and asking before the match set a tone of respect for the coach.

B. Move to the center circle earlier and give visual clues how much time is left. If the half is ten minutes, move out at the sixth minute and give visual indications when there are 3 and 2 minutes. The AR's running to the touchline can also give a private word. Sometimes you won't need a whistle pip. My experience that this works better than marching to the center circle at the tenth minute, blowing the whistle, and demanding that the players get started.

C. High school rules (NFHS) empower the referee to caution the coach. IMO, the time to do this is when the coach's conduct is intended to provoke the opponents (making them stand around when they are ready to play) rather than bother the referees. We have all the time we need.

Note: gotcha techniques change the story from bad coach to bad referee. No one will care why if the referee improperly retaliates by starting the clock early, signalling for the kickoff, or yelling at the coach from the center mark.

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