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: 33708

Mechanics 10/14/2019

RE: Under 15

Ken of Eugene , Oregon Usa asks...

Is it proper for a referee to suggest to a coach at youth level to take a player off for a bit due to behavior on the field? Had a situation this weekend at u14 level where some words were misconstrued between two players and resulted in a player crying a bit but staying in the match (I did not hear anything, only learned after the match). I knew something would happen between these two again and 5 minutes later, the crying player did a YC foul on the opponent and the opponent angrily stomped on the player when standing up.

I wonder if I should have taken both players to the coaches after seeing the issue of words and asked them to please sub them off for a bit to deal with whatever happened. Is that over the line for a referee at any level to suggest to coaches subbing off players for a bit to prevent possible confrontations?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ken,
well neutral officials are not supposed to interject opinions or give tactical advice during the games. Yet we are also supposed to manage the game for the benefit of the player and their safety. I tend to think at youth grassroots we can assist with the well being of players and their own teams if we appraise the coach should that player be really tiding hot on our radar.

After all it could be an ugly tackle or a VC outburst and the opposition might also be hurt never mind one team playing short.

If the coach is aware he may well act just because he realizes his player is skirting a send off temper tantrum.

I think it was a wise move to introduce sin bins to rest an upset player. Provides a wee bit of contemplation given how easy attitudes and tempers flare up.

When players are in my face in such a way as having incurred my displeasure, I usually let it be known in case their coach missed it that my suggestion, while it is is not law or a request only a heads up your guy could go any moment!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ken,
You ask, 'is it proper?' so I should first point out that this is not a power officially given to the referee at any level in any age group, even in any modified or local competition rules that I have ever come across.

Having said that, it's often said that at younger age levels, it's more about a learning experience for the players than an exercise in strictly applying every little part of the laws, no matter what. The younger the players, the more this holds true, in my opinion.

Still, by the time you reach U15 level (which means that depending on how far into the season you are, some players will have turned 16 already) I think you're getting close to the stage at which the laws should be followed fairly closely - some 16 year-olds are already playing professional football, for instance.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ken
Always a difficult one. I know that some coaches take exception to such suggestions by referees while others appreciate advice. I have had referees tell me that such advice has been rebuked by certain coaches. So it is not a power that a referee formally has and if he knows the likely reaction then he can proceed accordingly. As regards safety I would certainly bring to the attention of a coach any injury concerns such as concussion, illness etc.
In the case of unlimited substitutions a tuned in coach will be responding to situations where referees has had words with players by taking the player off for a period. If the referee can see it happening so can a coach.
Now there is another school of thought here that suggests that players learn through experiences and if a player reacts in a way that results in a card then so be it particularly if it is a red card offence.
While we do our best to keep players on the field of play through player management it is not our responsibility.
Let me recount this recent situation in a high level national Underage game. I had occasion to book two player on the home side. With about a minute or so to go in the game one of the booked player, who was for me being overly combative when there was no need, committed a foul in itself not meriting a card. He then proceeded to kick the ball away yet it just so happened that it was caught by an opponent some 6/7 yards away and that player then moved to take the free kick. An older opponent may have let the ball sail past him. I spoke to the player about what he did not understand about being on a caution and left it at that. Anyway the game ended shortly afterwards. I then had occasion to speak with the home team coach a short while after the game and I told him that his player was lucky not to be sent off and he told me had spoken constantly to the player about his conduct! So if the coach knew his players likelihood to engage in further misconduct and the way he was competing late in the game why did he not take the player off on a substitution and to manage it better? I think the same coach would have not taken kindly to any offer of advice from me particularly at a level where it would be expected that the coach would be managing the risk of a player getting sent off.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33708
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

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 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.