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Question Number: 34159

Mechanics 3/17/2021

RE: Under 19

Ken of Dallas, TX USA asks...

In higher level matches I do, for free kicks I where the attacker asks for 10, after setting the wall I pretend that I’m laying down a line of vanishing spray making a “tschhhhh” sound while fake holding a can. Usually it gets either “wut was that” or laughter from the players or others who see it like spectators and coaches.

Would this be viewed as unprofessional? I do it to lighten the mood a little and vanishing spray is banned outside pro matches anyway

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ken
At Underage referees can be fairly relaxed about mechanics and indeed some parts of the Law. At Underage it is a FUN game and anything that helps to lighten the mood or make the game more enjoyable is okay.
If I was invite suggestions from referees as to what do they do that is not *correct* I would expect to fill pages. Some of the actions that I have done in the past include
# Asking for an incorrect throw ins to be taken again
# Letting trifling offences slide.
# Allowing a parent on to the field to attend to an injured child.

I remember in one particular game both coaches came to me before kick off to say that they had more substitutes than what was allowed and could I extend the game after the final whistle to allow these player to get a game.
I told them that it would be a bit unfair to the *unofficial substitutes* not on the roster and that instead of blowing the final whistle I would come to both coaches and give them a covert signal that the game was over and that I would continue the game and they could makes as many substitutes as they wished after that. I think perhaps one player "twigged" that I could not be playing that much added time which ran to about 20 minutes yet to the kids that made no difference. As far as they were concerned they were part of the game, BTW the result did not change.

Some aspects of the game are red flags and should not be relaxed such as safety,

In your particular mechanic of setting a wall I see nothing wrong with it when it is seen a bit of fun. However as you progress into more higher level games referees need to be totally professional and quirky mechanics would be frowned on. So not a good idea at higher levels and indeed some players and coaches might see it as *unprofessional* which would be unhelpful.




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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ken,
does it still get laughter after you retake the free-kick if they fail to stay there and not respect the distance or delay the restart? lol Personally I find the respect you are afforded by players, coaches, parents, and spectators is affected by not only the actual effort you make in staying with play, good foul recognition, how serious you are regarding their safety, but the humor aspect and enjoying the match in its entirety reflects the true atmosphere of competitive sports. Your statement about vanishing foam actually being banned outside pro matches I was totally unaware that was so? Unless it kills grass I see no reason for such a position? Used mainly at the highest levels of competition, vanishing spray helps prevent unnecessary delays by preventing the defensive team from encroaching closer than the mandated 10 yards from the ball during a free-kick, and also by preventing the attacking team from illegally moving the ball from the spot where the referee awarded the kick. Its use in football is not regulated by the Laws of the Game, with authorization being in the hands of the governing body of a match, league, or tournament. Just who banned it?

In recreational settings or what we refer to as grass-root soccer fun should be an essential component even if the results are fiercely contested! The character of an official and their ability to humorously interact is a beneficial component that can be highly advantageous when it reflects the true nature of an individual. Sincerity and willingness to engage or share in the experience even while staying neutral as an official is not tainted by having a decent streak of personality!

I can recall showing white cards to players for good sportsmanship. Encouraging spectators/parents to applaud when younger players act appropriately in tough situations. In a town versus town match, there was a young player trying her darndest with a screaming mom parent/coach who just could not shut up, constantly shouting the most insane advice, criticizing her efforts, mad if the ball was miskicked or a mistake was made. I could see the frustration on the young lady's face and her body language was unmistakable she was miserable, heck I was irritated as hell as were those in attendance.

During a stoppage, I sidled over to the young lady and gave her one of my yellow cards and explained that if her mom was bugging her she could go over and show her the card explaining if she did not be quiet or act in a more positive manner the referee could request she leave! It certainly may have embarrassed the coach but it certainly made the young lady smile as well as most in attendance!

Well-meaning though they might be, banshee screamers are often unaware of their effect. In a u12 match, a well-intentioned gentleman of such powerful passion was running up and down the touchlines encouraging the young ladies in an enthusiastic boisterous but in a totally mind-numbing screeching manner to where his screams so startled the young ladies from both teams chasing the ball along the touchlines they stopped their pursuit in fright allowing the ball to exit into touch when either of them could have prevented it.

At this point, I delayed the restart I asked him onto the pitch and quietly chatted. "Look you are a great guy full of passion, love, and support but did you see what you did? They actually stopped playing because you terrified them from getting to the ball? I need you to calm down and be vocally supportive in a much less aggressive manner? Do not run with them as they move up and down, you can certainly wander up and down the pitch, be encouraging, just let's not freak the girls out OK?

The fellow was embarrassed but also very aware of how he appeared and was apologetic and very humbled. I did not shout out, or get mad or belittle, simply told the dude. You need to chill, it could be upsetting if I was forced to ask you to leave. I resumed play with a throw-in rather than a drop ball for spectator interference (this was 20 plus years ago) but had no further problems. After the match concluded, the opposing coach of which this guy was with, thanked me for this particular parent had often been subjected to much unkind commentary in the past.

When walking the pitch to ensure safety I would occasionally push back the seating of lawn chairs I felt too close to touchlines all the while encouraging Q&A with spectators and parents prior to the match. Often, we would require the parents of the one team to choose the player from the other team that they thought best exemplified the game as the MVP. This was very effective in tournaments and league play, they were involved as a parent but they perceived a greater appreciation as they paid attention to the match as a participant with input...

Youth soccer is a partnership of Fair play where ALL PARTICIPANTS & EVERYONE in ATTENDANCE should be on the same page no matter what competitive element to it! We can agree to disagree but teaching moments be it a retaken throw or free kick or letting an ugly one continue or a parent wanting to comfort their child on an injury. Cutting some slack is not being unneutral so much as it is being human, recognizing what is best is not always covered in law!

As you advance up the ranks a lot will depend on who is doing the scrutinizing should you apply a humorist twist in a tense match? Even pros use humor to deflect or defuse. I recall an incident related to me by another refere whereby the player was running off at the mouth, dissenting, and rather than caution the ref asked bluntly, Are you coming over for Christmas? Player, err what? Are you coming over for Christmas dinner? Player, Blank look? I just figured you whined so much you were related to my mother-in-law?

Having a laugh -with them- is always a good thing. A bit of sarcasm can be ok but embarrassment is never a good direction to go in! Theirs or yours! Not that being able to laugh at absurdity is wrong, just that incidents, where you show true character, should not detract too much from the game. The key for a respected referee is not to become a preening self-absorbed prat making the whole show about yourself. The arrogance some officials exude infuriates not calms situations. I think you have a good grasp of how far to push it!
Cheers



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