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Question Number: 27827

Character, Attitude and Control 9/29/2013

RE: Junior Girls league. Adult

terry youll of Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear England asks...

If there is a junior Ref (in age and experience) who is over zealous and is making many enemies in the league clubs. He talks to adults and kids alike in a patronizing manner and is constantly threatening to either send spectators off or report their coach. He is the only Ref in the whole league who acts in this way. The actual question is, What can we do about it. as anyone trying to reason with him is in for trouble. This does make a bit of a joke on Respect and I am sure it should work both ways.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Terry
The football community has many channels of communication both formal and informal. In these situation the informal channels of having a word with league officials who may in turn speak with referee assessors, regional development officers etc might be appropriate.
Referees don't work in isolation and they are bound by the same code of conduct as everyone else including the Respect campaign. If there are specific instances of inappropriate behaviour then a formal complaint can be made.
Also a bit of advice. Teams should only focus on those things that they have control over. They have no control over the referee or his demeanour.
Top teams know what it needs to focus on. The clearer the team is about what it wants to focus on, the more likely the team will stay focused on the factors that contribute to its success.
Top teams also focus on what it can control. The team has control over its players and its own actions and attitudes ? nothing more. The team should keep its focus here. If the team focuses on outcomes (things its has no control over such as the referee ), it is creating unnecessary anxiety and distraction. Focus on the process and that increases the likelihood of positive results happening. Games are won and lost by players not by the attitude of a referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

A shame and happens more frequently than one might think. Young, inexperienced referees are subjected to an amazing amount of abuse by adult coaches and parents, who both should know better. How young referees deal with this differs greatly among the pool of youth referees. We lose 44% of our referees every year and the number one reason is, and has been for over 20 years, verbal abuse from adults.

Every young referee knows this abuse is coming and may start exhibiting the very bad behavior you describe before it comes. Since we as a soccer community do so very little to prevent and eliminate this abuse, it's not surprising to see some very young, inexperienced referees acting like the abusers themselves and becoming bullies.

That said, just because we may understand why this occurs, we as a soccer community cannot allow it to continue.

The absolute WORST thing you could do would be to challenge this young referee. He'll only react poorly. It's possible if he were spoken to in a calm manner and asked to explain something he did or didn't do because you want to understand better he may react favorably but I don't think I'd approach this youngster directly for any reason or in any manner. So, at or after a match he has worked is neither the time nor place.

Referees have to be assigned matches and your club has a Referee Assignor. If this referee's behavior is well known among the teams, the Assignor needs to know, and the sooner the better. Have representatives from 2 or 3 teams approach the Assignor with your concerns but do so in a positive manner. League officials, of which the Assignor is one, are constantly barraged with complaints about "poor" referees that "cost my team (or child) the game" or something similar. Your concerns should be that this referee is behaving inappropriately to everybody and he should be giving the same Respect he apparently is demanding, not that he doesn't understand Offside (which he may not but is not the point). He is making the games no fun for anybody and the reason you are all there is for your kids to have fun. No one should be threatening anybody, certainly referees should abide by the same rules as everyone else. You are also concerned for the young referee as this kind of behavior does not benefit HIM either. Whatever you decide to say to the Assignor, couch it in language that expresses your concerns for everybody, the referee included and you would really appreciate the Assignor sending someone to assess this young referee. The Assignor will appreciate your doing this. I doubt you'll have to go farther than the Assignor.

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