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Question Number: 21200

Law 5 - The Referee 4/27/2009

RE: Competive High School

JAB of River Grove, IN USA asks...

I have a question as to a referees professional standards versus their position as an employee.

As a referee (which I am not) I believe your first priorities are the safety of the players, the integrity of the game, and your individual professionalism. However, I have seen in many tournaments and the occasional game where the referees were asked to "modify" the rules of the game or the conditions under which they are played. Some of these changes were enforced by tournament committees or local rules.

For example, how would you react to the following game rule changes? Would it make a difference if the changes were available before you signed up to referee a game or games, or if they were made later due to a change in conditions (weather, etc.)? I have seen all of these in actual conditions in U14-U18 games, although rarely.

1. No stoppage time allowed for a game, even if a team was deliberately wasting time such as extra long kicks out of bounds, slow substitutions, etc.
2. Changing from a three man crew to a two man system (if you had originally signed up as part of a three man crew), or even a one man system.
3. Halves of unequal length, announced at halftime.
4. One continuous period with no switch of sides and no halftime.
5. Teams asked to play with less than 11 players due to field size (outdoor).

I realize this is more of a philosophical question but I was interested in your opinions. Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

As I see it, the choice becomes:
(A) Accept the conditions as stipulated by the governing committee, and the game goes on
(B) Reject the conditions and don't do the game - and the committee has to find a new referee or cancel it because there is no referee available

While neither of those are in the best interests of the players, (A) is better.

If some of those conditions were made known ahead of time, I might decide not to work at the tournament at all. But I wouldn't walk away from a game once there, unless the conditions proposed compromised the safety of the players or myself.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

1. You are correct that the safety of players is primary concern and you provide for the safety of the players by enforcing the Laws Of The Game to the best of your ability. I have found most referees to have the highest integrity and professionalism.
2. To your specifics: First, if you accept an assignment, you HAVE TO abide by the rule modifications associated with that assignment. That is official policy of USSF. If you do not want to abide by the modifications, then don't accept the assignment.
a. We have ALL worked tournaments with no stoppage time allowed. Stupid modification but you have to abide by it
b. If you are referring to 2 referees ON the field of play at the same time, that is expressly FORBIDDEN by US Soccer and I would not referee such a match. If you are referring to only 1 Ar, that's life. why wouldn't you continue the match? Same for no ARs. There are NOT enough referees to have 3 at every match. I often work games with 1 or no ARs. No big deal. You just do the best you can.
c. You CANNOT at halftime shorten or lengthen the second half. That's forbidden by the LOTG. If there's inclement weather or darkness approaching, you continue the game for as long as you safely can but you cannot change the second half time.
d. Again, not only is this forbidden, it's stupid. I wouldn't do it.
e. That's up to the coaches and players. If they want to play short sided it's fine with me.
In all the years I have worked as a referee, the only time I left a venue after showing up for an assignment was when the tournament committee told me the teams had to continue play even if there was lightning and only the committee could decide when to stop play for weather. I asked them if they were going to allow play to continue if there was lightning and no rain and they said yes. Since the safety of the players is my responsibility I told them I couldn't work under those conditions. I should also note that this was not in the rules and regulations made available BEFORE I accepted the assignment. Had this been in the regs I would not have accepted the assignment.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

The consequences for a referee like me are nonexistent as I am not looking to advance or go further up the food chain.
The players, coaches and parents want a game.
They rearranged schedules, made plans, and sacrificed other things to be a part of the sport and only a self-effacing egomaniac would hold a bit of uneasiness or frustration over their rights to enjoy the weekend. That said as an obstinate SOB I do not take kindly to being blind sided with, 'Oh by the way you can not apply the laws of the game today!'
Nor can an official intent on becoming a FIFA official blindly decide to go off and do something contrary to what is required for advancement
In cases where matches are not sanctioned I feel the Insurance coverage is a key component and effective compensation for services rendered are important.

I can at least wrap my head around a rain delay or a shortened half to accommodate scheduling issues, people leaving, catch the ferry, island's last call, darkness etc..
I get the fact often in tournaments referees are too few, trying to do too many matches hobbling around on bad knees and the two man or single official is something that is almost forced to occur.

We must remember that if we decide to do the match the teams playing also have decided to do the match and must agree to play under these aberrations.

I recall a tournament where they BEGGED an older experienced referee to do a u-18 final match! He was tired and sore after 3 days of high tempo matches and needed to rest but he grudging agreed after the flattery of, 'Only you can do this!' In that match he collapsed and blew his knee out. He no longer referees and was resentful for being pressured and angry at himself for not saying NO!
In another tournament the exact same type of situation occurs but this older referee is intelligent enough to say NO thanks!
They put a young lady into the breech, she is way over her head, the match was a huge mess, where she quit refereeing all together and some dared to point to the older referee who refused to do the match that it was partly his fault!

A referee referees the match! He or she is not responsible for all the politics and rational of field use, schedules, conflicts, etc.. by the league or tournament officials. Referees are neutral. well intentioned individuals trying to look after those who are intent on playing. If the situation is something you are NOT comfortable with you owe it to yourself and the match to at least consider saying or doing something about it. I have seen matches on terrible pitches where the NEED To get the game in seemed to outweighs the safety of the players.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

Additionally, page 4 of the Law Book allows for 5 modifications to the Laws of the Game:
size of the field of play; size, weight and material of the ball; width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the
ground; duration of the periods of play; substitutions.
All modifications must be agreed to and the referee informed of these agreements prior to the start of the game.

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