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: 33856

Mechanics 1/28/2020

RE: Under 19

jeremy of boston, ma usa asks...

Is it unprofessional to be talking all game about why you are/aren't calling fouls? A few years back I went from being relatively silent during games to now probably talking more than any referee I know, constantly and loudly saying why I am or am not calling a foul (moreso the 'not calling a foul' part). Things like 'FAIR SHOULDER' and 'YOU JUMPED INTO HIM, NO FOUL' and 'THAT'S FINE THAT'S FINE', stuff like that. I have noticed that at all levels I am refereeing, from U11 up through U19, high school, etc. I seem to get a much better response from players, spectators, coaches from doing this; not that they respond by complimenting my constant feedback but moreso an almost complete lack of dissent at all.

I think a big problem that refs run into when they get a lot of complaints from players/coaches/spectators is a lack of transparency as to why they are/aren't calling things, and that maybe by being very verbal about it, it shows everyone what I am allowing, what I'm not, and why. I'm curious if this would be viewed negatively if done by a very advanced level referee or just in general by the refereeing community. If it is, I don't think at this point I could ever go back to what I see most refs doing, not being verbal at all

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeremy
your character and persona as to what you say & how you say it reflects the appropriateness of the decision & amplifies the good or bad of your choices! Like an overblown whistle, voice inflection if you scream all the time lessons the impact. What ever NEEDS to be said, use it in conjunction with ALL the tools at your disposable, eye contact, body language. Calm, firm, direct and to the point Friendly tone or smile at a jocular moment but not in ridicule or at the expense . Trival trifling, doubtful but persistently commenting on things that are in fact not allowed can draw trouble as well as allowing play to flow.

I recall a referee liked to say, 'Hands down, quit grabbing, quit pushing, but few whistles. So on a run where the defender tugged away for about 40 yards ,all the while with the referee telling the player to desist, arms down quit pushing pulling the exasperated coach yells out, 'Then call the bloody foul!|

Laugh with not at, acknowledge good as well as bad behavior, It never hurt to be polite while being fair. If asking are you OK can, you continue let the concern show! Was the advantage ok with you did you want to play through it? You certainly do not have to be a clam but a I would avoid being a monkey chatterbox.

I often use phrases like. ' nothing there ,or keep going.' I only use, PLAY ON, if I ACTUALLY utilize the advantage clause! Such things as Off his back who is up for it & put a name on it in youth play to encourage communication is plausible but not all coaches want you to accord what is essentially tactical info to their players.
I often inforn the teams this prime directive
MY ARS are 100% off limits, you may bring things to my attention , IF, IF there is TIME, IF, IF it is convenient .I will answer a respectful question but NO is NO and we do NOT debate!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeremy
There is a world of difference between communication and unprofessional shouting / berating of players.
Like any walk of life referees bring their own personality to the game. Some are quiet and do not engage much while at the other end of the scale is the loud sergeant major type that bellows comments constantly.
It is a personal style however the advice is that it is fine to communicate in a professional way.
UEFA my association say that communicating with players can give decisions credibility and conviction e.g. indicating simply that a yellow card is being given for a series of offences
(persistently infringing the Laws of the Game) can be useful so that the players realise that the yellow card was not given only for the final offence.
My own experience is that as I got older I tended to engage too much which often resulted in a *debate*. I had to remind myself constantly to not try to justify decisions as players just do not want to know and highly unlikely to change their opinion of the call unless they completely missed something.
I continued to communicate with phrases such as nothing there, ball clearly played, not deliberate, or after a foul words like came through the player, studs up, etc

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jeremy,
Not unprofesional at all. I think this comes down to personal style - some referees feel that sometimes a comment invites argument while silence doesn't; conversely, the comment and brief explanation may show you've seen it while silence doesn't tell the players you've seen it. Some referees believe that too much voice can reduce the impact of the voice when it's really needed, conversely some believe that more talking builds rapport.

You've experimented and found what works for you and that's great. Make sure you're constantly thinking about this - you might feel the need to adjust that further; you may eventually feel that you're talking too much and it influences an increase in dissent, or you may keep being happy with what you're doing. As I said, it's a personal style and it's great that you're trying different things. You may find that commenting on some things works better than others - or maybe in some particular games.

Higher level referees are probably more likely to be talking to the players a lot (especially as at that level there's more pressure to 'manage the game' and build rapport).

I personally tend to talk a bit along the lines you've mentioned - though I know that sometimes when I've said 'no, it wasn't a push, you've backed into him' that's lead to argument, where in hindsight I felt that sometimes a simple 'no' wouldn't have. But that's experience and getting a feel for certain specific situations.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33856
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.