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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33135

Law 3 - The Players 3/11/2019

RE: Under 17

jake of las vegas, nv usa asks...

What is the best way to utilize captains in a game? Obviously they do the coin toss, and some referees will give the 'you are in charge of your players, I only want to talk to you' spiel but I rarely see that actually enforced. I have personally only ever see one referee utilize them in higher level matches where if a game is getting rough (ex. after a string of yellow cards, dissent, etc), he will stop play and call the captains on the field together to discuss what is going on. is this a proper thing to do? What are your suggestions on how to best utilize their 'standing' on their teams?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jake,
I often reiterate integrity is the gift of self respect but so to is the respect shown to others for their contribution in keeping the game safe & fair. Often a CAPTAIN is ceremonial but it is also an appointment of respect to individuals that are held in high esteem by teammates or coaching staff. Referees do use the captains to help explain or offer a possible method of conveying information to their respective teams., in cases where a difficult decision or confusion exists. Also as you indicate a way of addressing escalating aggression to put a halt to such shenanigans. I treat captains with professional courtesy but I DEMAND from them a certain respect because I offer it in return. Be cordial, smile but forthright and honest in your dealings, it is likely they will be as well.

Sometimes a coach will get cute and try to use them to pump you for information or point out how your AR is failing to catch those clearly offside situations or why so many unresolved fouls are being permitted as a gross miscarriage of justice. Or the captain thinks he can dissent because he is the captain. DO NOT LET them get away with tactical BS. Be willing to listen to a calm well meaning appropriately timed question but have zero tolerance for smart asses that think they have any right other than to behave in a respectable & responsible manner. Firm, polite no nonsense.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
The Laws tell us that the team captain has no special status or privileges but has a degree of responsibility for the behaviour of the team. It also says that the team captain should play an important role in helping to ensure that the Laws and referees’ decisions are respected.
I personally have only used the captains when as you say the teams have clearly decided to move collectively beyond what is acceptable or to tell a captain that a player is on thin ice with his conduct. Thankfully I have only had to do that once or twice with both captains together as when it has got to that point it is difficult to get the *toothpaste back in the tube*. It was more to tell the two teams through the captains that they have to accept the consequences of strong disciplinary action being taken from that moment on. In addition the single player advice through the captain has not worked all the time as some captains used it as an opportunity to berate and questions decisions.
I recall a senior observer telling me that he used this tactic in a very high level preseason friendly with a PL captain and the captain told him that he would not speak to his player as if he, the referee, was doing his job correctly there would be no need to! That put paid to that approach.
So the action is only as good as the captain ability, desire to be helpful and in a good many cases the captain is of no help. Some teams seem to think that it is a good idea to give the captaincy to the biggest dissenter on the team in the hope that he will not get cautioned for speaking constantly out of turn to the referee.
For me it is a judgement call call based on my knowledge or observation of the captain. If I am of the opinion that communication with a captain is of no benefit then it does not happen and I just manage the game without his *help*. I would say is the majority of time I do not use the captain as the benefits can be questionable nor do I use the "only through the captain" approach as it is never heeded.

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