Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 33237

High School 4/12/2019

RE: Varsity High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

I am AR1. Play was stopped for an injured player within the opponent's PA. A coach (not the head coach) made a comment ('that's a foul, ref'), and slowly walked to the player while arguing he never said that comment. Referee was confrontational, not letting it go that this assistant coach said the comment. Ref 'finished' the conversation, said something along the lines of 'please do your job.' Coach was already tending to his player but returned a snide remark of 'Do YOUR job.' Ref pulls out YC.

At halftime our team (AR2 was also a mentor, several plus years of experience) discussed it and explained that the ref was baiting the dissent instead of walking away from the situation.

This happened on my side of the field. Could I have done anything to help diffuse the situation? My idea was to call the ref over to me and just talk, make it seem important.

Also, AR2 (mentor) said that we should only acknowledge/talk to the head coach. How much should we as referees acknowledge or allow other technical staff to talk to us? Dissent and abusive language should not be tolerated, but should casual conversations or explanations of calls occur with other technical staff?

Finally, NFHS rules say that a coach must be present at the pre-game meeting. Is this required to be the head coach or the 'speaking coach,' or can it be any coach?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Assistant by the very name means that the official is there to assist the referee. Ultimately it is the referees game to call and assistants are there to assist in that etc.
Now we have all been there as referees and assistants in these *injury* situations where the team official/s that comes on to the field uses the treatment process to 'have a go' at the referee for a no call or a lack of card or whatever.
There is many ways of handling these and it is a matter of personal preference. I have seen everything here from nothing through to removal of team officials right up to abandonment after situations got out of hand. I personally stay away from the area where the injured player is getting attention. I do not need to be there so I do not give anyone the easy opportunity for 'dissent' nor to engage in debate.
Personally I would not be too concerned about a yellow card here and if that is all that happens as a result of the verbal spat then no big deal. As an AR I would not get too involved in a 'spat' between the referee and a team official other than to view it and witness if. I would be mindful of it escalting into something more yet I would not 'intervene' unless it was to assist the referee. On occasions I have witnessed referees getting involved with technical staff that in my opinion did not need to happen nor was I going to get involved in trying to diffuse it as it was the referees call as to how he wanted to deal with it.
As to communication with team officials common courtesy and good manners should apply at all time. I have no difficulty in engaging with anyone who wants to comment / question in a friendly, ask a question approach and I have done so as AR on the benches side many times. In fact it has added to / assisted some games by quelling dissent through explanation, asking for calm, ensuring the areas are respected. Comments, questions is not the domain or exclusive to the head coach only so not engaging with someone who is respectful, mannerly is not appropriate in my opinion. Indeed a member of the coaching staff may be the best individual to calm the head coach down and to use that person to assist. By all means when it comes to decisions affecting the game the head coach is the key person to engage with through the referee. Ultimately it is a chain of command process with the head referee being the leader on the referee crew side and the head coach on the teams.
That would also apply to the pre match meeting. Why have a meeting with anyone other than the head coaches and captains being present. They have the responsibility for the team and the game so why would it be with anyone else?

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Derek,
as match officials we are or we should be cognizant that 'emotion' plays a large part in the reactions of players, coaches, parents & fans. Although a referee has final authority to manage the match, for it is a fact, his opinion carries greater weight but he also bears a responsibility to the players & game to inflict the least interference as possible. It is not a stare down contest where the referee wins because of what he can do but rather understanding the needs of a match to take action only when necessary. When dealing with adversity or pressure our idiosyncrasies and tolerance levels reflect much about our character and how we approach & work our way through the evolution of a match. My colleague is on point when he mentions do not go looking for confrontation, you dig that hole it can get deeper really quick. Get away from flare points if you are NOT needed to disperse players from interacting.
A warning for attitude or behavior should serve a purpose.
You can observe and look for other flare ups but if the referee is directly intervening do your best to support him. Later you can discuss the semantics of whether that was the best approach to take or not. If you engage in dialogue or interaction be wary of losing focus as well as being distracted or irritated. One should try to avoid escalating tensions but an occasional rebuke or humorous comment can switch off the tension knob if you have the temperament & speaking ability to engage with wit & authority. I try to remind those on the touchlines its a game people, chill and enjoy the afternoon. As my colleague points out communication is much easier if we engage at the appropriate time, in a civil tone & respectful conduct .

If we are easily antagonized by nefarious comments on our abilities, effort, character or birth orientation chances are officiating is not the wisest course of action. I refer to it as selective hearing, because while dissent IS an issue of concern and CAN lead to additional misconduct which SHOULD be addressed it is also a warning sign and teaching experience as to how the match is unfolding, so best we not overreact but try to understand and think before doing or saying anything.

Their star player is hobbling about from a challenge that you might have missed or even if you saw and reacted less than they thought you should it will concern & anger them because perception of him being targeted unfairly will be uppermost in their minds not your hurt feelings about substandard officiating references.

Your AR2 mentor could be on point that the CR response was feeding the dissent but responsibility & reasonable behavior are STILL corners stones for coaching staff to remember when they engage in finger pointing. In the pre game if you are able to discuss match management & how the CR wishes to be kept informed aside from the usual eye contact and thumbs up at the restarts when bracketing play. You do not have 2 way radio or buzzers so a wave over or a throat grab is about all you can do to signal lets get a handle on this match! While you do function as a team you are to assist the referee, not try to control . You can offer your advice per say but respectful and NOT public if an opposing position .

I concur best if head coach/manager/captains are kept in the loop as they bear the most responsibility. That said general information should be made available to the technical staff, public & parents as well. EVERYBODY should be on the same page when it comes to supporting our youth by agreeing to disagree & move PAST it! I suspect though the rules demand a designated member of the technical team to represent the teams interests on such a meeting, likely the head coach. Perhaps our local high school expert in rules can weigh in if he is available?

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


I will take your last question first. The head coach must participate in the pre-game conference. This is rule 5-2-2d on page 32. of the NFHS rules book.

Your question about technical staff talking to you is confusing as there are no technical staff in high school games. if you are talking about someone who is in the team area dissenting (objecting by word or mouth to decision). then that person (assistant coach, bench personnel, trainer, etc.) should be given a caution. In high school play, coaches can ask questions of the referee without dissenting. However, dissent should be cautioned. My experience is that if dissent is cautioned early, further dissent does not occur. of course the same holds true of language worse than dissent that would result in a disqualification.

As for the caution that did occur in your situation, it is difficult to provide a solution since you did not indicate what had occurred earlier. Was there a previous warning? Had the play been very rough. However, based on what you provided, I would agree with the mentor. The CF should have handled it differently and just told the coach that no foul occurred. The coaches statement may or may not have been dissent depending on the tone. However, since no card was given at that time, there apparently was no dissent. A more settling and no-confronting response should have been given by the CF.

As the AR on the team area side of the field, any of the duties listed for the Fourth 0fficial in items, 5,7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15 and 17 on pages 102 and 103 of the NFHS Rules Book that you are in a position to handle are items that you can take care of as the AR1.

I hope that you have a successful girls spring season and hope that you get to work the Champion games at North Central College.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe Manjone

View Referee Joe Manjone profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33237
Read other Q & A regarding High School

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>