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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 29100

Mechanics 1/12/2015

RE: Competitive Under 17

Daniel Bacic of Plano, Texas United States asks...

In your opinion, do you think that a coach should be dismissed if, after being summoned onto the field to aid an injured player, he/she neglects the injured player and instead approaches the referee solely to vocalize disagreement?

In my opinion, the coach has failed to keep at top priority the safety of his/her players. This is not considered acting in a responsible manner, and therefore the coach has forfeited his/her right to be in the technical area. I seem to remember reading either a memorandum or a previous answer from this panel of referees that voiced the same opinion.

This exact scenario hasn't happened to me (yet), but a discussion at a referee meeting I recently attended had me wondering about this.


Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Daniel,

The fact that he chose to argue with the referee instead of attending the injured play shouldn't, in my opinion, automatically mean he needs to leave the vicinity of the field of play. You take each situation on its merits - how/what he said his piece, his previous actions, and whether he kept going after the referee has tried to calm him down (in this case, told him to attend to his player) will all be factors to take into consideration. So the referee will certainly take into consideration the fact that the coach was solely focussed on an argument and that may tip the referee more in favour of dismissal, but it shouldn't, by itself, be grounds for dismissal.

However, if he's so outraged that he thinks it's more important to argue with the referee than attend an injured player, there's a fair chance he's not going to respond to attempts to calm him down and become abusive so he could earn his early exit that way.

Just make sure you know what the rules are in your area with dismissing match officials - I know in my local area in Melbourne, Australia (and I know of a number of areas with a similar rule), each team is required to nominate who the team physio/doctor is - and that person cannot be dismissed (even if the coach nominates himself as that person). If he crosses the line he'll be reported, and it's possible to abandon the match, but particularly when youth players are involved it's a concern. On the other hand, I've also refereed in areas with no such rule.

Fortunately, I've never witnessed the scenario you describe, though coaches often take advantage of being close to the referee to voice their opinion on their way across (or when they're leaving). Sometimes it's a good idea to not stand too close to the injured player while he's being attended to - also try not to stand in the path the coach is going to take!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Daniel
The game can be emotive at times and referees have to discern what is concern, agitation and what is irresponsible behaviour. A coach complaining to the referee about a poor challenge happens and is best ignored. If it gets beyond that then referees should use the Ask, Tell and Remove approach as they would elsewhere in the game.
When this happens I simply ask the coach to attend to his player which is his main priority. Coaches might be upset about the challenge that perhaps caused the injury. He could though be using the opportunity to berate the referee. Like Referee Wright I advise referees to walk away from the near vicinity of the treatment so that there is less likelihood for this to happen or that it is a comment situation only. If the coach / physio persists with the behaviour then Ask him to desist and then get him and the player off the field of play as soon as possible. Should the situation persist then move to the next stage of the process.
Referees should also be mindful that a physio / first aider may not be removed for safety reasons. That does not though exonerate that person who should still be reported for his behaviour. Indeed if the irresponsible behaviour was serious enough for the person to be removed the game could be abandoned if a replacement could not be found.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The referee can sometimes avoid this issue by moving well away (30+ yards) from the injured player after summoning the coach or trainer. But, if the coach still engages the referee, the referee has more options that just immediate dismissal.

It depends on the nature of the coach's actions and words. Sometimes, the coach's concern is only about the safety of the players. The referee may be able to resolve the situation by listening to the coach. Stating, 'Ok. Thanks. I heard what you said. Please tend to your player.'

If the coach's actions are a challenge to the referee's authority or are personal attacks on the referee, it may be necessary to dismiss. My experience is that the coach usually will respond to a warning and stop.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Daniel,
the referee certainly has the authority to dismiss a coach or abandon a match for the coach acting irresponsibly or endangering the safety of anyone.

It is difficult to set aside personal irritation at actions by another who maybe emotionally charged but that is where the professional aspect and integrity of a neutral official must counter such superficial matters and act appropriately, not excessively.

You can accomplish greater match respect by remaining calm and deflecting the vitriol of unhappiness, which is not the same as suffering full out abuse or extreme dissent without appropriate actions. We can move away from the source , we can remind the source, we can warn the source and we can deal with the source if indeed we must. We really do consider all mitigating factors before succumbing to the necessity of taking drastic irreversible action. We are ALL accountable for what we say and do.


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