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Question Number: 33524

Law 5 - The Referee 7/17/2019

RE: Competive Adult

Joshy estrada of Hollister , California USA asks...

If a fan is talking smack to ref and he ends the game to try to fight the fan and all the players then he cases the fight what happens?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Joshy
Very rare occurrence and an event that has happened on the very rare occasion where the referee got involved in a fight.
Quite simply if the referee is involved in a fight with fans / players the game is over. There is no way that the game should or can continue. It then becomes a civil matter for the police who will deal with it.
The soccer authorities will take a very tough approach to such a situation and if the referee was involved in starting the fight then most likely the referee will be suspended for a very long time from all soccer activity.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Joshy,
I take it you mean the referee caused the fight? If so, the referee would be in big trouble and as ref McHugh says, if that were proven to be the case, he would almost certainly end up with a lengthy ban.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Joshy,
A referee is not able to defend themselves from touchline verbal abuse antics very easily. Mostly we learn to tune it out. But even today in large stadiums if the conduct of fans endangers or creates unsafe conditions matches can be terminated abandoned or halted temporarily and the fans removed or the match will not continue. IN cases where a referee is infuriated by a fans' direct assault on his integrity and conduct he is of course supposed to ignore it or if it is if by nature foul or abusive, if he feels unsafe or thinks match control is truly threatened he could stop the match & request the help of the coaches to intervene. If he simply is mad and wants to instigate the fight with the touchline fan for irritating him, a referee must understand his integrity & respect for the game is also on display. He could write up a report to the league that conduct at the match was so unpleasant he has no recourse but to halt the match because the coaches /teams refused to intercede. Now while a referee can not chase down an irritative fan, should that fan get into his face on the way to the car we ARE allowed to defend ones-self. What the referee can not do is assault the individual with impunity. It would create a situation where discipline, responsibility and accountability would have to be determined. Also if it becomes an assault then there will be a civil suit to factor in as well with the police involved. There is no longer checks & balances anymore where public pressure puts an equal squeeze on misbehavior . It has become all too much one sided.

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