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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35507

Other 5/12/2024

RE: Travel Under 13

Layome of Gibson, Tennessee United states asks...

Are refs allowed to yell at soccer parents.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Layome,
as to what was yelled or why, generally engaging verbally or figuratively with the crowd along the touchlines is -NOT- a recommended action! If there are issues, it is best to approach the team coach/manager to deal with unruly spectators. However, practical reasons of commonsense do not always apply in the heat of emotional overflows. Referees should not be in the habit of directing verbal outrage at spectators, at youth matches many are family members moms, dads, grand parents of the kids playing.

Youth level referees are either generally inexperienced volunteers or older experienced curmudgeons like me, we are paid a small fee to be the neutral official conducting a match safely & benefit of your kids! It is best to agree to disagree and move past most things but occasionally attitudes and tempers flare. Although the LOTG or RULES mandate a conduct of integrity, respect and professionalism in that it is a job & we are held accountable, we are also human.

I personally am very adapt at relating to dissent and unruly behaviour and have a knack for efficient direct action or staying away from a no win situation. As I mentioned a referee should try to ignore the garbage, as there is always a bit of bother but not affecting the world. If it gets to a point where necessity demands intervention the lead up should include assist from the team mangers. I have seen abandonment issues result from direct contact.

In recent years the increasing disrespect or intolerance for divergent views is epidemic and soccer suffers as do all other aspects of society. When adults set examples, good or bad, kids tend to emulate. Generally kids or any ref with a chip on the shoulder do not fair well but then self confidence is destroyed by the abuse often throw their way. We often tell kids in youth soccer that we enforce a zero abuse tolerance, then fail to protect those needing that support! AT the other extreme, a few develop a Napoleon complex and try to order adults around once they are told they can toss the adults if they get out of line ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY and local field bylaws that permit showing a red card to youth spectators. I found those youth tended to be about 14 to 16 years old. lol Out of curiosity what was yelled and why do you think it occurred?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Layome,
The referee yelling at spectators is a result of a growing problem in youth sports. The problem is unsportsmanlike conduct of the coaches and spectators towards the opposing team players and coaches, and the officials. Unsportsmanlike behavior by coaches and spectators has always existed at all levels of sports competition, but the amount of unsportsmanlike behavior, especially in youth soccer competition, seems to be rapidly increasing.

This has resulted in difficulty in finding new youth soccer officials who continue to officiate. As a result of this shortage of officials, many games have to be cancelled or are just not scheduled.

Youth games are often officiated by younger officials not much older than the players. These young officials want to try to learn to officiate but the spectators and coaches. Youth games are also officiated by the older officials who have found ways to handle unsporting behavior. As an example, in my area, the average age of high school soccer officials is 58 years and growing older each year. However, players skill level and speed increase each year..

Youth soccer spectators and coaches need to understand that even though officials may be paid a little for their work, the officials are still volunteers who are providing the players with the opportunity to participate. Like officials at all levels, errors will be made. Coaches and spectators of youth soccer games need to concentrate on praising the players and forget about criticizing the officials. Without the officials, the game cannot be played, and, unfortunately, games are not being played because of the official shortage.

To answer your question, the referee should not be yelling at spectators. There should be a game administrator assigned by the league take care of unsporting conduct by spectators. The referee should report the problem to the administrator and the administrator should put a halt to the unsporting behavior.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Layome
The simple answer is NO and referees are well advised not to get involved with spectators. Should it happen? The answer is no. Does it happen and unfortunately the answer is yes.

Why does it happen? Well the referee community is made up of a diverse group of individuals with most who follow the Code of Conduct while a few decide to step outside the code and get involved verbally with spectators. It is not acceptable conduct by a referee to be yelling at anyone.

Generally when this happens the conduct of the spectators has not been responsible and it has probably included unsporting shouting to those involved in the game including the match officials.

What should happen is that the referee should respectfully involve the coaches on both sides to advise that the conduct is unacceptable and that they should take steps to stop the interference in the game. The referee should not be approaching anyone other than the participants in the game and is a respectful manner.

If that conduct persists then a second warning should be given that if the conduct persists that the game is over and the matter reported to the relevant game administrators.

Referees are encouraged to referee in a positive, calm, positive manner and yelling is not acceptable by anyone in the game which includes the spectators. You indicate that the game was U13. What sort of message does the game send out to these young players from adults including parents, spectators, coaches and most importantly match officials?
I'm disappointed that a referee has stepped outside the code of conduct and been brought down by a few spectators to a level of conduct that is not acceptable. It should have been dealt with in a professional respectful manner rather than mirroring the very conduct that the referee found unacceptable.

As a final point I would advise that if the club found the referee's conduct unacceptable then a report should be made to the relevant League authorities. Referees can be asked to account for their conduct on a particular match and they can also be observed by a referee observer in future games.
The game needs referees yet we need referees to be custodians of fair play and sportsmanship, responsible for ensuring that the game is played with integrity and in accordance with the Laws.
To achieve this, referee have to adhere to a strict code of conduct / ethics which is he bedrock of fair play and sportsmanship. It embodies the principles of impartiality, fairness, sportsmanship, safety, and integrity that are essential for the game's integrity. By adhering to this code, referees play a pivotal role in ensuring that soccer remains a fair, honorable, and enjoyable sport for players, coaches, parent and spectators.

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