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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34947

Law 5 - The Referee 4/10/2023

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Babbage of Hjorring , Denmark asks...

I would like to know who is responsible for the conduct of spectators? Probably wrong but I had a feeling that at a high level where there is a fairly large crowd it is the home team’s responsibility.
Here though I am referring to a 14 year olds game where there is just a handful of spectators behind both dugouts.
There is some unacceptable abuse raining down on the referee from those behind the away dug out.
Should my earlier view be true I think it unrealistic to say to the blameless home coach that it is his responsibility to do something about it.
Would it be more fitting to say to the coach of the away side that it is his responsibility and if he can’t control his followers he can receive a card as obviously you can’t give a card to a spectator!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
If the game is being played on a Home club’s ground then the home club has responsibility for ALL spectators both home and away. That may be found in the Rules of Competition plus in law where entry to the ground is allowed by either express or implied consent. That permission can be revoked by the owner and its agents requesting that the offending party leave the home club's property if they fail to heed instructions to desist.
Safety is also the home club's remit.

The home club can ask anyone to leave its ground as the ultimate sanction and as a referee I would approach the home cub manager and ask that the matter be dealt with. That might result in the home manager speaking with the away manager to get it resolved.

It becomes a more difficult situation on a neutral public park. Having said that the team who has requested the use of same has somewhat control over it for the duration of the game.

Now I have dealt with these type of situations in the past and I would NOT be dealing with it by cards yet with the instruction to the home team management that the irresponsible conduct ceases or the game is over. It is covered under Law 5 of the LotG where it states that a referee ** stops, suspends or abandons the match for any offences or because of outside interference**

I recall an incident in a Youth game where there was irresponsible behaviour between spectators in a covered spectator area. It was starting to attract the attention of the players so I held up the game and I went to the home team management requesting that it be sorted. The home team manager said it was a few away spectators and it was not his responsibility to which I informed him it was his clubs ground and to get it sorted or the game would not restart. Anyway following intervention between both sets of technical staff the matter was resolved and the game continued. Had the outside interference continued I would have abandoned the game, walked away and reported the matter.
I suspect my threat to end the game assisted both technical staff to deal with the irresponsible conduct. My communication was with the home team only.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
Control of spectators is not something that is specifically covered in the laws of the game. As my colleague ref McHugh points out, it is generally considered that the home team is responsible and this will usually be spelled out in the rules of competition (ROC).

For instance, in the document, "Regulations of the UEFA Champions League," we find the following rule:

"The home club (or the host association) is responsible for safety and security before, during and after the match. The home club (or the host association) may be called to account for incidents of any kind and may be disciplined."

I think you'll find that most competitions have a similar provision in their ROC, assuming that the matter is dealt with at all.

So as my esteemed colleague further points out, the referees first recourse is to contact the home team and ask them to take steps to deal with the spectators' behavior. This may include them getting the away team involved.

If ultimately, the problem still cannot be resolved even with the help of the away team, the referee may have to consider abandoning the game.

Finally, let me just mention that I don't believe there's any good reason for issuing cards to either manager (home or away) for the behaviour of spectators. (Unless they have been doing something to actually incite the trouble, that is).

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter ,
as my esteemed colleagues explained most ROCs or associations default the responsibility of spectator conduct to the home team as a matter of practicality but to some extent we are all responsible.

A referee could verbally announce to the general public as a matter of principle before abandoning the match, the foolishness stops or the match is over! The general public should also apply some much needed peer pressure to the miscreants causing issues!

I can tell you if there was a location disturbance of spectators at the bench area of either team, that manager or both, could be asked directly by the referee to please deal with it as influencers only.

It takes courage to be able to approach "confrontation" never mind having the necessary skills or power to do so, however should he/she refuse or fail to effectively quell the disruptions we could note if there was any complaisance or effort extended to assist us in the match report.

Unless there was a specific incident requiring the use of a card there is no value to harping on the manager for the delinquent actions of those not under his control.

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