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Question Number: 28502

Character, Attitude and Control 6/15/2014

RE: IGHSAU High School

Tim Otten of Urbandale, Iowa United States asks...

Is it proper for a parent of a player to officiate a game involving a rival school? For instance, in town rivals play in the state tournament. The winning team moves on and the next game a parent of a player on the losing team officiates the rival next game in the state tournament and is involved in several controversial calls?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tim
Referees are always mindful of conflicts of interest as are match assignors. Assignors will not knowingly assign referees to games where a relation of the referee has an 'interest' in the game. Sometimes it just has to happen due to the time of the game and unavailability of other referees. My experience is that midweek due the day for a school's game the choice is sometimes non existent.
As the team in this case has been eliminated from the tournament that conflict of 'interest' is no longer present certainly from the neutral's perspective.
However it does not stop suggestions of that interest still have a bearing on the referee's performance and all sorts of conspiracy theories.
It was once said by a UK Premier League manager that the problem with referees is that they don't care who wins.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It would be very unusual in a competitive tournament. It's a horrible situation that most referees have faced with young, recreational matches. There's no one else available. You do the game or it gets cancelled. We'd rather support our kids. If anything, the parent referee is likely to try so hard to be neutral that close calls would probably favor the opposing team. Which isn't fair either.

The real reason it isn't done at competitive levels, however, is that the losing team will never accept that the referee is impartial and unbiased. It is far better for the league and the assignor IMO, to not have a situation in which the referee's integrity is questioned. That said, however, for my son's matches, I always would have preferred the better referee with a relationship to a poor referee without one.

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