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Question Number: 21398

The Technical Area 5/22/2009

RE: competitive High School

tom of belleville, ontario Canada asks...

during a recent High school final it was brought to my attention by the H.S convener that the coach of team 'A' was on the cell phone to a adult on the other side of the field and where passing technical advice . at half time my two Ar's confirmed this . As I did not see this happen I informed all of my decession that if I do see it again I will take action. in the 2nd half it happened again and I informed the coach it was not acceptable and to turn the cell phone off and put it away . the real catch to this is the person on the other cell phone is a teacher a brother of the coach a referee assignor and is a referee himself . is electronic communication of this aort allowed and is the brother in offence of the referee's code of conduct?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

The Ontario high school soccer association must handle their own discipline in this matter. Coaches are supposed to be within the technical area and not permitted communication devices for outside assistant coaches to pass on technical information to the players on the far side of the pitch. When informed by the AR of the nature of the calls one could approach the coach and ask, 'What do think you are doing?' This COULD also be viewed as coaching outside the technical area as well. Please No cell phones, no tactical communication during the match of this nature!
IF repeated, remove the coach, then who is left to talk to the players?? ;o)

We can hope those in charge of these proceedings look up the FIFA Codes of Conduct, Ethics and Disciplinary committee guidelines on the part of officials including those in the technical area and the expected conduct of referees on and off the field.

I have personally seen and used cell phones in the technical area not used for on field communication. I.e. waiting for the word of an important job or on call firefighter ambulance personal etc.. Or even the birth of a child. In a recreational grassroots operation we are not as finicky as the elite level

I suspect the Ontario version of high school soccer is similar in nature to USA high school (NFHS) and college (NCAA) games! Under those rules, the use of electronic devices of any type are prohibited in the technical or bench areas. Additionally, coaching staff that are not in the technical area, but up in the stands or in the press box, may observe the game from there and may communicate with the players and other coaches during the half-time interval, HOWEVER they are not allowed to communicate with the players or other coaches during the game, using electronic or any other means (no hand signals, no semaphore flags, no smoke signals etc.)

At present under FIFA regulations there is nothing that specifically prohibits the possession of cell phones within the technical area however there are stipulations on this subject regarding the tactical restriction on their use as communication equipment between players and the technical area.

So perhaps there is nothing to stop anyone using a phone in the technical area provided he is not phoning a player on the FOP? NO one is going t be worried if the wife phones the manager during the match to remind him to bring home milk and eggs after the match. Might be some credibility issues and marriage issues that need to be worked out LOL! ;o)

LAW 4 ? THE PLAYERS? EQUIPMENT Other equipment
The use of radio communication systems between players and/or technical staff is not permitted.

In certain leagues; it is mandatory for medical staff to have a mobile phone with them at all times. And one would expect that even at the lowest levels, at least one person in the technical area should have a cell phone in case of emergencies.

The only other situation where the cell phone might be an issue is where a coach has been banned from the touchline or stadium for a particular match. The ban includes contact with his team. That contact will include mobile phone but could be very difficult to prove.

Article 70 paragraph 2 of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations states: 'A team manager/coach who is suspended from carrying out his function may follow the match for which he is suspended from the stands only. He is not allowed in the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before and during the match nor is he allowed to get in contact with his team.'"

It is not up to referees to police disciplinary rules of a competition! I hold the opinion the competition authorities should provide more complete rules and guidance to the teams as to what constitutes reasonable behavior of cell phone use and what does not within the technical area.

A Referee therefore has no power to demand for a cell phone not to be used; but nevertheless, can/should inform the League authority if he feels his concerns over the use of the cell phone by the Club Officials in the technical area during the match are justifiable.
An example of a coach using TV aspect of cell phones to download off a live feed to review a referee decision then try and argue their case with the 4th official while pointing to the cell phone is likely NOT going to result in something good!


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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Another way to deal with such matters is to indicate you are aware the coach is using the phone, and politely ask who will be taking his place should you need to come by again regarding the phone. Unless he is quite dense, the point is made.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

If I KNEW and could PROVE that the other person on the phone was a referee, regardless of the blood relationship to the coach, I would file a report to the appropriate authority and let them sort it out. In my opinion this would clearly constitute an ethical breach worthy of a disciplinary committee's review. If nothing else, I would at least go on record stating my position about what I believe to be unethical behavior by the 'referee' in the stands. All the best,

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