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Question Number: 34488

Character, Attitude and Control 1/26/2022

RE: Adult

Mark of Eugene, Oregon US asks...

I have a style of refereeing very different from almost everyone I see and work with. I talk a lot during the match. Like, any contentious challenge where I don't call a foul, I immediately call out why I'm not calling a foul. If a ball hits an arm and I'm not calling handball, I immediately yell out why. If a contentious challenge happens in the penalty area and I'm not calling a PK, you better believe I'm yelling NO NO NO and some variation of why no call. And say I am giving a caution to someone, I will immediately start calling out their number to get their attention, show them the card, and frequently even say why (SPA, reckless, persistent, etc.) Especially SPA, if players try to question it, I'll point out all the space in front of the player, point to the 2-3 passing options they had, etc.

Obviously talking to players to some extent is normal and even necessary for referees to manage players and a match. But what I do, I rarely see anyone else do. And yet by doing this, I hardly ever receive any dissent, grumblings, or complaints about my calls. I feel like the instant feedback helps me manage the game better with players/coaches at both youth and adult level, and that the general mystery that most referees have around their calls or no-calls where they basically give no explanation as to why they did or didn't call something is what causes bad feelings towards referees.

I have also heard many fans talk about how much they wish that referees were mic'ed up like NFL refs who explain the calls they make, and a referee like Ed Hochuli who was renowned as a great ref for his explanations about why a penalty was called rather than just stating the penalty like every other ref does.

Basically all this boils down to, would you call my style "over-refereeing", or is this somewhat acceptable? Since I see almost no one referee like me, I feel like a sore thumb, but at the same time I can't think about doing a match silently.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
Its all in the eye of the beholder and it can be down to the personality of the referee.

I have been assistant to referees who were very vocal and also watched very vocal referees during games and it annoyed me no end. It also attracted negative comments from players at times as some of the comments went beyond decision explanations. In a busy game it can be a running commentary with the referee even stating the obvious and maybe saying something that is misinterpreted by a player.

Communication is important and yes it is helpful to inform players of some decisions yet not all of the time. For instance on handling that is not called I might inform those close to the ball that it was not deliberate or on a no foul that there was “nothing there”. I would rarely state the obvious or explain an obvious decision say on a caution. I had no difficulty explaining a call when asked yet many calls do not need explanation.
I believe the true key is making the correct calls. Quiet referees who made good calls throughout the game rarely have any difficulty in matches.

So if it works for you in your games that is great. I know many referees who are quiet and it would help their game to be somewhat more vocal at times yet it is a big ask of their personally to change.

I believe that there has to be a happy medium between saying nothing and saying everything. I guess the true test is what is expected or required at a particular level. As a referee progresses up the ranks that referee is expected to conform to what is norm for that level in terms of communication, presence, fitness etc.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI  Mark,  
when we talk about managing a match for the good of the game,  we are attempting to provide a safe, fun environment for the kids or adults to play. The character of an official plays a large part in their ability to do the job effectively!   Application of some humor, good focus and staying with play. Players will come to respect you based a lot on how you conduct yourself as well as the decisions you make!  

I suppose some will say if you become the central figure in a match then perhaps you are too involved but that perception or expectations at elite level given the vast array of communicative devices and technology are likely to force a more reflective approach given the need to listen to input plus international players do not speak the same languages lol . 
Can we Over manage? 
In certain cases yes, as  a neutral official you do not want to relay tactical or one sided advice but if your personality &  style is not creating more problems than solutions then continue until your peers, assessors, mentors or the  association your referee for  can highlight a fault in your methods!   Players are well aware if they have done something wrong. Coaches will comment if they think you are infringing on their territory.  Pointing out the obvious could be redundant yet if say you are permitting an advantage then saying out loud " 15 blue your in the book!"  informs the ARs there is a card coming so remember, it lets players know  the same and it might help prevent retaliation. Plus if players want to quickly restart your intervention however well intentioned may effect their decisions?

When I have decided to stop play, my whistle sounds reflect the reason, be it short, piercing blasts in a relatively identifiable situation or loud and long as I run int0 the middle of an altercation. Showing players, I am on it, seen it and doing something about it without actually saying a word! 

I like to educate parents and often engage in conversations with those in attendance along the touchlines to help enlighten, not lecture, more of, is there anything you care to know? If you have integrity, (the gift of self respect) if you have a sense of humour, can laugh, be it at yourself or along with those on the FOP. If you show effort and display good judgment. HOW you interact with those under your protection will be your choice. If they respect those choices you will gain the reputation of being a fair competent official and likely welcomed on any pitch.

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