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: 35195

Other 11/3/2023

RE: select Under 12

Jon Smith of Bend, oregon 01 asks...

This incident during a league play between 2 rivalry clubs. During the first half the rough play from behind not so bad. During the second half one of our strong forwards had a hat trick. My son was left forward with him, the game became very physical with a lot of dirty shoving from behind. My son was shoved from behind and his partner was aggressively shoved several times from behind. The game was on turf, which can lead to concussions and fractures. These incidents were clearly in front of head ref and line ref. My son stated what happened along with his team mate. The refs were 14-15 year ( no adults) olds who also are attached to the rival club. My sons ref mentioned it was a unnecessary aggressive game. As I was walking across the multi field pitch, the young refs were sitting in a circle. As I passed by ( 40 feet away) I said to the group. Your reffing during that last game sucked and someone is goin to get hurt". The kid ref said who are you I said "a concerned parent who knows more about soccer safety". The the young ref yelled out *get out of here*. This kid reported me to state soccer association where I was punished from my sons club. I did not know I was not allowed to talk to the refs but I felt voicing my concerns in hope to prevent an injury. My word used could have been better. What is your opinion on this, we left this club due to toxic, I feel these refs were possibly bias at the expense of the kids.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jon,
first off as an adult you are expected to set an example.
As a parent I get the concern of safety. Safety should be everyone's concern.
Yet as a referee to be approached aggressively and then berated, is not something I like .

You kind of answered your own question, you could have indeed made your point without the resulting attitudes.

You approached with a chip on the shoulder, thinking these young refs are biased and foolish for not considering the safety of your players. It is likely your body language, attitude and verbal inflections, bristled with animosity. Telling them they sucked and did not care about the welfare of others. They resented it and likely told by the association directors you do not have to take abuse from the touchlines, please report it to us should it occur, and so they did,
Abuse to younger referees account for 95% of the reasons for abandonment.

How about a less adversarial posture? 14 to 15 is an interesting age lot of rebellious inclinations in a dominating adult world. "Hey gentlemen may I talk to you for a moment?"
After a match, on the FOP directly, referees are CONTINUALLY warned not to engage in confrontational debates if temperaments are flaring and resistant to dissenting advice, no matter how well meaning or factual it might be.

What I find slightly irritating is your claim that you were unaware of the punishment for doing what you did by approaching the referees in a dissenting manner? Did you not sign a code of conduct prior to your son playing? State soccer association and high school associations usually have parental codes of signed conduct sheets with additional association meetings to inform what will or will not be tolerated on the FOP, as well as the correct methods to make known your concerns to the associations through video commentary or rating cards, drop mail boxes , phone lines, etc..

Look I get it, at matches when I coached or my kids played and I saw things that upset me I KNEW as a referee my blurting out what I think generally will not go well. You can try to use your captain to talk, IF, the referee is amicable, but generally match time is NOT debate time. Critique in the heat of playing is just an emotive passport to ugly town.

Biases, real or perceived, is part of the collective culture of the home referee. The neutrally issue is often compromised by those watching and imagining just as much as any deliberate or unconscious effort by an official not to be impartial My colleagues point on foul recognition and what younger referees might be concentrating, perhaps unaware their match management was spiraling out of control by not calling some discretionary fouls or issuing appropriate warnings.

IF you are permitted to, as I suggested, be calm, approach in a non threatening manner and REQUEST an audience. State your concerns by asking them if, THEY, noted anything that was of concern? Not every referee is receptive to immediate critique unless they are being mentored or assessed.

When assessing young referees, try to get their take on the specific incidents of concern asking what they were thinking, seeing their position relative to play, their effort in staying with play? Did the notice any inappropriate conduct but discounted as it as trivial or doubtful ? Perhaps applying passive advantage without signalling?

I rarely found, "You suck!", as a good starting point, even if at the end of it they claimed the same thing on their own. I dissuade such terms, one needs to persevere to get better. I hope things get better for you here on in. A mistake or error in judgement is not an indication of permanent failure to any problem. We are all on our own learning curve as officials. Experience and skill levels when it comes to understanding what needs to be done and when. How one thing could lead to another, applying the LOTG in a fair and equitable manner. Generational wisdom is an evolving process not instantaneous.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jon
One of the challenges facing the game is a lack of referees and retaining those referees that are officiating.

On the point about bias it is never a good idea for referees to be involved in games involving a team that they are associated with. In our Leagues referees cannot officiate teams that they previously played with or connected with or who have relations involved with the club. Even if the refereeing is impeccable bias can always be levied which is not a good place to be.

Sometimes in a club organised competition a club may use referees which it knows which is never a good idea yet the alternative may be no readily available referees and then no game/s.

As a result of the growing shortage younger referees are put into games that probably require experienced officials who are more likely to take stronger action in physical games and in games involving close rivals.
I was at a U14 game recently which was officiated by a new young new referee. He did well yet it ended up with 5/6 cautions which was somewhat of a shock for the young referee as before that he did U12s with no cards. It probably could also be described as an **unnecessary aggressive game** with words exchanged at times between coaches.
I felt at the time that an older stronger referee would have dealt more sternly with the conduct. Looking back the first poorish foul should have been a caution yet inexperience allowed it to go unpunished. After that it sort of somewhat got away from the young referee although he did well to keep a lid on it with every foul called and cards issued as appropriate. There were no serious injury concerns that I saw other than truculent conduct.

Now you mention that most of the offences were aggressive shoving. I watch a lot of games and one of the least seen and called fouls by new inexperienced referees are upper body ones. They tend to get all the ground fouls, trips, kicks etc

As to venting your ire after the game in many ways it should have been levied at much at the coaches of the opposing team. Ultimately even if every single foul was called, cards issued it was still the conduct of the opponents that *sucked* from your description.
The infamous Battle of Nuremberg between Portugal and the Netherlands alluded to by Referee Dawson also springs to my mind
It will go down as one of the most infamous soccer matches in World Cup history, with Russian referee Valentin Ivanov forced to brandish 20 cards, four of them red – a record high at the time for a FIFA tournament.
In that game the referee got all the fouls and carded all misconduct yet it still went pear shaped.
Was the referee the guilty party or was it the conduct of the two teams. Much of the blame was directed towards the referee yet both teams bore the main responsibility in my opinion.

I was asked to assign referees to an U14 tournament during the summer. I could have sent young referees yet I chose two of our more experienced refs. The feedback was good as some visiting clubs said that they were delighted with the refereeing and that some of those clubs said that they had stopped attending certain other club organised tournaments due to poor team conduct and it not being dealt with appropriately.
So clubs vote with their feet and rather than getting involved in a spat with match officials it is always better to walk away. Berating young match officials is not going to achieve very much if anything by way of change or learning. The proper approach is to highlight refereeing deficiencies to the appropriate authority who will arrange for the referee to be observed and any shortcomings addressed in a post match debrief.
If it is an officially sanctioned game the appropriate response is to make a written complaint about the officiating and alllow the League to deal with it.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35195
Read other Q & A regarding Other

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 35199

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.