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Question Number: 34208

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/27/2021

RE: Varsity High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

I have had a recent match with an inexperienced Center and am wanting your input. As an AR, I assist the ref in making decisions, and most of my assistance relates to matters of fact, but sometimes I feel like I could do more.

With the play on the goal line outside the Goal Area, I raised my flag to signal the ball crossing the line. I lowered the flag and then pointed it directly in front of me to signal a goal kick. CR thought I was signaling offside, and I had to come onto the field and yell it was a goal kick. I debated correcting him, but because it was a windy day I didn't want an IFK mistaken for a GK in case it flew 100+ yards into the other goal.

Touchline call in CR's quadrant, I raised my flag as loud as I could. CR didn't notice and let play go. Spectators on my side were understandably yelling for CR's attention. After a few seconds with play moving toward the other touchline, I lowered my flag and let it go.
Question: Should I have continued to signal and get the CR's attention or let the game flow on?

Players were becoming confrontational throughout the game. On a DFK foul just outside the 18 which resulted in an injury, players were arguing with the CR and he pulled them aside for cautioning. I stepped on the field to cover the ball and separate the other players. When the CR came back he first said "I wish you came here sooner." I asked "why did you stop play?" He said "for the injury." I then affirmed we should restart play with a aled), but seemingly the CR changed his mind and thought we should restart based on the injury? I'm not sure what his reasoning was but because he was becoming confrontational with not only the players but myself, I left it at that.

Clock management was absent. When he delayed restarts to talk/argue to players/coaches, the clock kept running.
Only when I saw the yellow card come out or an injury did I yell to the timekeeper to stop the clock. I was trying to follow the NFHS rules on this while giving the CR discretion for the other delays.

After the match, he finally tells us that this is only his 2nd Center. I wish he said that before the game and I would've been more proactive in helping him. I didn't know he was having trouble until that DFK/injury stoppage above, which came late in the match.

Are there any tips to give when assisting another inexperienced ref? I'm not a mentor or assessor by any means, but I want to give help where it is needed.

P.S. Apparently there is a stigma in my state that feedback and criticism is unwelcome. I don't subscribe to this and wish more people would talk to me about my flaws. We are extremely short-handed and can't afford to lose any more, but I don't see why this should cause us to have unquestionable and immovable authority.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derek,
we appreciate your faith in us to assist you with your learning curve & are impressed with your attitude to do the same for your colleagues. Referees such as yourself are the reason we continue with our efforts to share the game as we are all on it just as your CR in the match you describe. Like the Beatles song, we all can use a little help from our friends!

I know that high school football differs in subtle ways from FIFA but certain foundations like trust and communication should not be cast aside. My first question since there was a 3 man crew, not 2, did you get together and have a pregame match discussion? A good CR should note the capabilities of their ARS and explain what is in store! Did you all walk the field, check the nets? Was there an equipment check? id the players? Was a courtesy intro offered to those in attendance? Was the Timekeeper acknowledged? Mediators in attendance?

You are 100% correct nothing should complicate having a cooperative effort to ensure our youth have a safe fun experience let alone endure an unquestionable and immovable authority. Our efforts here are to reinforce that good habits instill good results.
It is why they train all officials in procedures and mechanics so that in theory, any 3 people can work together using the same basic principles! The fact all 3 could be at different comfort levels on the experience curve is something that should be addressed pregame!

Fear and discouragement from negative feedback can create a vicious loop of apathy where instead of being open to the input we self protect by isolating ourselves from attack. Thinking, well I am trying my best they just do not appreciate my efforts! There will always be some dude, some lady, some idiot who will grate on your nerves like a hammer drill. The sad fact is it could be anybody from a coach, player, parent, spectator to even a supposed colleague. There are CR with stories about ARs trying to do too much as there are stories about ARs feeling ignored or belittled!

When there is this separation or miscommunication it is a sad day in neutrality dynamics at a sporting event. An unchecked ego can make us come across as churlish or narcissistic in telling instead of asking or refuse to speak up, ashamed that we might embarrass ourselves or others. The Team concept is but a theory UNLESS put into practice.

If they do not engage then you need to engage. A reticent CR needs to have comfortable ARs to assist their efforts but these conversations need to happen in the pregame to be able to work through any difficulties within the match itself. Even the half-time bubble discussion on how things are going again to reinforce the positives and correct any imbalances. It is not that you monopolize the discussion, feeling your experience overrules the others but when you have or require information to do the job then let's get it out there. If you are not being gifted the information by a confident well-versed CR then you need to extract it with poignant questions.
Of course, the questions pregame might not be the same at the halftime bubble but a good post-game review and break down the match good or bad into less painful things than a screaming match with the ugly attitudes?

As to what to do in the match itself? If you have no clear instructions then you wing it trying to follow normal protocols taught to you from the beginning. I have gripped my throat to signal to the CR hey things are getting wild out here tighten up, lots of thumbs up where it is going well and some grimaces and discrete hand waves we should talk at the next stoppage. Try to get the information to the CR, if it is ignored it is much different in attitudes than if not seen. If you need to be authoritative verbally to communicate because the flag is not being recognized but the CR is against it bite thy tongue try not to stay irritated or show irritation in front of the spectators or players. If he says do not call fouls then do not if he says OK do not start calling them on the other side of the field where he is inches away. To some extent regardless of the other guys' attitude, we can make things easier by not having one ourselves!

Below is a comprehensive pregame concept by Gil Weber and it should give you an idea on what topics are important. That said if you are an AR remember you are there to assist the CR in having the least problems possible, do not make it into a struggle for power. Remind yourself we all need a little help, and if you offer and it is accepted wonderful, if not, well be glad it's not your match, your decision, your reputation

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
We have all been there.
My approach has been to make a mental note of the big ticket items in the game and to discuss those at half time or afterwards with the referee. Ultimately it is the referees game to officiate and the last thing that any referee needs is an assistant who is *officiating* the game from the touchline. I generally pick two to three items that I talk through after the game in a spirit of learning and to discuss why it happened and what the referee can do differently in the future. Sometimes it is just no knowing the Rules or the Laws. If something needs to be addressed at half time such as say a timing issue then by all means.

Many of the errors that young experienced referees make are generally minor in nature and there is no real need for an AR to intervene during the game. Of course when there is an error of significance then ARs must intervene and help the CR put it right.
In the case of a missed flag even experienced officials can have an odd one in a game and in your case as play had moved away with no real impact then the best approach is to do what you did which is to drop the flag.
The case of important flags such as violent conduct , ball out of play the flag needs to be maintained. Others such as offside can be dropped which is akin to advantage although only referees can play advantage.
Most missed flags are due to positioning and that can be discussed as to the position that caused the flag to be missed.

An important point to note is that when giving feedback is to focus on the positive as well as the negative. Young inexperienced officials need as much encouragement as possible and that means advising them of what they did well in the game and where they made good decisions in 2/ 3 examples. I usually recount situations in my games where something went pear shaped and what caused that. I advise that it is always a good idea for referees to sit down after the game and review what went well and what did not.

I also recall a situation where in a game I noticed one of the ARs not following the instructions and he was also coming into the other AR's half plus not following the 2nd last opponent as I would have liked. While I knew he was inexperienced I did not think he did not know the fundamentals. As it turned out he was totally in the dark as to some of the basics. The half time break was a crash course in AR duties with the key advice of staying with the 2nd last opponent and not to follow play up the touchline. He had officiated as an AR in other codes and that is what is he was bring to the AR role. Anyway the 2nd half went well and he thanked me for the advice and how much easier it was for him in the 2nd half.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


I understand your situation and how frustrating it was for you.

At least two things should have happened before the game.

The first was that the assignor should have informed you and the other team member that the CR was inexperienced. As a long time high school assignor, I did like to see officials get experience, but I would inform the team that there was an experienced center.

Secondly, the CR, in the pre-game conference, should have mentioned his inexperience and asked for you your assistance.

With the errors that were occurring, especially the clock not being stopped as required, a half-time conversation was in order. At half-time, it is common for high school officials to discuss problems and develop solutions to rectify the problems in the second half.

If there are calls that need to be rectified, I find it best to keep the flag raised and ask the CR to come to me rather than go out on the field. You can only tell the CR what you see, and let him make the decision.

I hope that you have a very successful remainder of the Girls High School soccer season.

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