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Question Number: 23813

League Specific 8/23/2010

RE: travel soccer for U9 Girls Under 9

Liza Owens of Baltimore, MD Baltimore asks...

Are yellow cards used in U9 girls travel soccer? Can a ref make a parent leave for talking to another parent about the yellow card situation?

What can do done if there was obvious favoritism in a soccer tournament?

Long story-short, U9 girls soccer tournament. Both team are aggressive in playing, team 1 is never called on 'anything' but team 2 is penalized for everything. Even in obvious knock down for team 2, team 1 is not called on it. A U9 player was given a yellow card and put out of the game with only a matter of seconds left in the game. What that necessary? At this age, kicking a player out of the game for doing what she is told can have a traumatic effect!!!

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

A referee has the power to suspend or abandon a match if a parent refuses to leave sight or sound of the field. Referees are taught to ignore comments from parents unless they are persistent, personal, public, or profane.

Unfortunately, there is a perfect storm in u-little soccer. Parents who are new to soccer, a game that inflames passion and requires discipline, confront those who are new to refereeing. [The experienced ones are assigned to the BU16 -GU19 levels.] It takes a couple years of mistakes to become a good referee. Most new referees quit before then because of the sometimes accurate, but often cruel (particularly to 14 year old referees) things that parents say in the heat of the moment.

While complaints (accurate or not) about referee mistakes occur even at the highest level, the problem is particularly acute in levels under 12. Some leagues have imposed no tolerance rules and this can result in parents being asked to leave for less severe conduct. Of course, some of our best referees began as parents who were upset at the weak officials at their kid's matches and decided to make a difference.

Yellow cards for young children are a subject of debate. The laws apply to everyone, and law 12 provides for cautions for persistent infringement (too many little fouls) or for one reckless foul. My opinion is that I don't card little kids. I use other tools (including the assistance of a good coach) to keep the game safe, fair and fun. Other referees that I respect disagree with me. They believe that the best way to teach young children what is not acceptable is to use cards.

Absent a unique rule (such as exists in high school) a player who receives a yellow card is not required to leave the match. The decision to substitute a player is entirely up to the coach.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Cards are seldom needed in soccer below U11/U12 (and only rarely at that level - I think I've given 1 red and and I wouldn't need to use both hands to count the yellows in 12 years). At U10 and below, the only time you would need a card is for blatant acts of violence - like my first red card ever when a U10 player decided to stomp on his opponent.

Cautionable offenses can usually be handled with the cooperation of a coach. Call the coach over to you and the player, and explain that the player needs to cool off or there will be trouble. Suggest that he be subbed out for the rest of the half or game. The alternative is to show a card and report it. Often that only leads to tears by the player, frustration and annoyance of the spectators, and aggravation for the referee.

That assumes that the referee and coach are working in partnership for the enjoyment of the game by the kids. Sometimes this won't work because the coach is being a jerk, or sometimes because the referee is young and doesn't have the communication skills to make a deal with the coach as an equal.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Liza
I don't believe that it wise to have competitive travel football for U9 & certainly not to have parents involved in a competive manner.
The game at this level should be about fun not about competition. As a result the notion of favortism is then a non issue.
I have a real issue with adult values and children's games and it is very dangerous when society does not notice much difference between the world of children and that of adults. What should happen is that the children are allowed to play in a safe environment with the referee's role is to educate young players on the Laws of the Game and to ensure safety and to work with the coaches in an enjoyable setting.

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