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Question Number: 28487

The Technical Area 6/10/2014

RE: beginning club soccer Under 10

ED of Woodbury, CT USA asks...

A visiting coach was berating three high school freshman girl officials during a U9 game recently. The AR on the touch line in front of his bench was a particular target. Eventually, the center ref, although unsure of herself and worried about the coach's reaction, did ask him to settle down (although to no avail). The center ref, a promising young official, asked what she should have done. We talked about Ask. Tell. Remove. But what advice would you give to the AR on what she could have done? Did she have to wait for the center ref to act?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ed
An AR should ask the coach to behave in a responsible manner and that she will bring across the referee is required. That is the Ask part. If that does not work then she brings across the CR to Tell the coach to behave. She does this by raising the flag to get the referee's attention and asking her across. This might have been discussed in the rematch as to how it should be handled. If that fails then the coach is Removed by the referee who will have probably being paying attention to this since it was raised.
I personally find it incredible that a coach at under 9s would behave in such a fashion. A word of caution here. At this very young age group it is important to have sufficient responsible adults present with the team. If that is not possible with the removal of the coach then I would abandon and walk away. That should be done if there is any risk to the personal safety of those involved anyway. The matter is reported to the relevant authority as well as the match assignor.
Young referees need to be supported after these situations to reassure them of support and the correctness of their actions.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It is difficult for 14/15 year olds to deal with abusive adults. But, the coach must be dismissed for irresponsible behavior. Our young referees are entitled to our support and protection.

The AR may not have the experience/maturity to address the coach directly (as an adult AR would). If uncomfortable, the AR should get the referee's attention at the next stoppage in play. (Raise flag/shout referee's name.) Explain the problem to the referee.

The referee must then address the issue with the coach. What happens next depends on the referee and the particular behavior of the coach. If the AR has already asked the coach to stop and the coach has ignored it, the referee does not need to ask again. She should tell the coach that the behavior is unacceptable and must stop. (Note: if the referees fear for their personal safety, they should terminate the match immediately. They also should feel free to call the police for help. They don't have to take three steps.) But, even if the situation is not physically abusive, they must not ignore the verbal behavior. It must be addressed early!

If, as you indicate, the coach's behavior continues, the referee must dismiss the coach. No more discussion. No reasons need be given to the coach. The referee stops play and instructs the coach to leave. 'You are dismissed. Please leave.' Suspend the match until the coach leaves sight and sound of the field, and if the coach refuses to leave, abandon the match. (Note: in most youth leagues, if there is no qualified coach present, the match must be abandoned.)

But, there is more to be done. The referee must report what happened to the league and the assignor. Most youth leagues will take strong action against an abusive coach - - but they need to know the details of what happened. That requires a written report. If asked, the assignor will help them write it.

Parents and referee mentors also need to talk with the young referees. They usually think it is somehow their fault. They don't know (yet) that ten percent of the adults at the fields are jerks or bullies who have to be dismissed. They are jerks and bullies with everyone. They don't last long in our game. What the young referees also don't know is that 90 percent of the coaches are amazingly, wonderful people, and care greatly about developing youth referees.

Finally, they need to understand that U9 parents present a unique problem. The spectators often don't know anything about soccer. I once did a tournament match between two BU15 teams that had just played in a youth national tournament and were great rivals. It was an intense match. But, all the noise was coming from the next field over. You would have thought the players were killing each other from the sound and fury.

That was the GU8 match.

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