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Question Number: 17438

Character, Attitude and Control 10/21/2007

RE: Grade 8 Under 17

Jonathan Sterling of Titusville, Florida United States asks...

Once I was ref'ing a tournament and we had a guest referee from far away come in. When the subject of coaches wandering too far and interfering with the AR's line of site came up, he said that he used to always carry white spray paint with him. If a coach was being troublesome, he would pull out the spray paint and mark his technical area, and tell the coach if he left it, then he would have to leave the field. Of course at the time, everyone laughed, but now thinking back, I don't think that's such a bad idea. I'm actually thinking about including a can of spray paint in my referee bag. In your opinion, is this a good idea?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Actually if the league would see to it that the grounds personal had the technical area in place as part of the correct field conditions would be a better idea. But a can of white spray fixes a few pk spot imperfections as does some twine and electric zip straps with a sharp knife for the overly committed among us. If we have to go to the extent of saying "do not step over this line " it becomes a power struggle that needed to be set straight even before this was necessary. I find a, ' Sir in the result of your absence from the field who looks after these players ? Huh? Why? Because it might be a good idea to prepare him/her for that distinct possibility.

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

The best way to tend to wandering coaches is for the club to mark technical areas on one side of the field. Once marked the coach MUST remain within it. That is found in Law 3, IFAB Decision 2.

The other side of this is ALL referees must be on the same page, outside once -- a word; twice and off you go. The first referee not having the courage to enforce the Law ruins it for everyone. That gent should be running lines until he finds courage or something else to screw up.


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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Johnathan, Forget carrying a can of spray paint , and don't bother marking a technical area to control a wandering coach. You open yourself up to so many potential problems by doing that.

For example, let's say he's wandering up and down the touchline. So what are you going to do, stop the game while you dig into your referee bag, pull out the spray paint, bend down close to the ground, and mark a technical area? Everyone is going to be laughing -- at you! Then you'll almost certainly have the following happen to you.

You'll restart the game and immediately the coach will step on the wet painted line and he'll get white paint on his shoes. Now he's screaming at you that **you** have ruined his shoes. And after the game he'll continue to complain, and he'll demand that you pay for new shoes.

Who needs any of that nonsense when it is all totally preventable?

You are a youth referee (I was your assessor on October 20th!), so you're starting at a psychological disadvantage when dealing with adult coaches. But that does not mean you are powerless. The Laws of the Game give you control over the benches, and give you the power to deal with bench personnel who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner. The Laws also make it clear that coaches may step off the bench, come to the touchline to give instructions, and then are to return to the bench. They are not allowed to wander away from the technical area or the immediate area of the bench if no technical area is marked.

So, deal with it early. The first time the coach wanders up or down the touchline go to him at a stoppage and politely ask him to remain at the bench. Politely state that he needs to remain at the bench and not wander, even if no technical area is marked. Do **not** get into a debate or a discussion with the coach. Inform him, and then quickly back away and restart the match.

If he continues to wander give him one more polite warning at a stoppage, but make it stronger. Do **not** threaten him, but state again that he **must** remain at the bench, and this time state that his actions are disrupting the game. Again, do not get into a discussion or debate. Say your words and quickly back away and resume the game.

If the coach then persists on leaving the area of the bench dismiss him. You cannot allow the coach to control the game or to control you. If he will not respect the game and respect the instructions of the referee, get rid of him.

If you send a strong message the coach hopefully will learn a lesson, as will other coaches who hear about it. However, if you fail to deal with a coach who disrespects you, then he will continue disrespecting the next youth referee and the next and the next. Those are your friends who'll get it next.

So, deal with it, but deal with it forcefully only after you've tried diplomacy but it hasn't worked. Do **not** go out of your way to look for an opportunity to be a dictator on the field and show how much power you have. But also, do not back away from your responsibility to your fellow referees.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

You said the referee "used to carry" the paint. That makes me think he thought the better of such action after a while, and you should consider carefully all my colleagues have said above. The paint is a good referee tent story, but will NOT help you in a real game. Work instead on developing a game management personality that lets coaches know you will not allow irresponsible behavior from them. This doesn't mean you get into shouting matches (heaven forbid!) but it does mean learning to be firm and fair and fast when they step over the line. Never forget it is the players' game, and that coaches are only there to assist their players, not you, not the game. It is really hard to walk off the field the first time when a coach refuses to leave when he's been dismissed, but it is necessary. I hope it never gets easy to do, but it will become less necessary as time and reputation and experience back you up. Good luck, dear.

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