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Question Number: 28783

Character, Attitude and Control 9/25/2014

RE: High School

Debbie of west salem, ohio united states asks...

Can a spectator get kicked out for saying bad call? Also telling the ref to watch the game and not the stands since the ref was arguing with the spectator instead of being involved with the game since it was in play.
Is head butting, pushing from behind, high kicks, punching and locking hands and arms allowed in high school girls soccer.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Debbie
When a spectator interferes with the playing of a game the referee can ask for the person to be removed. Obviously when the number of spectators is significant that is not going to happen. What happens is that in individual cases the referee asks the home club to remove the person.
On the second part of your question I believe you know the answer with your question being rhetorical probably based on the referee's performance. I recall watching a video of a girls High School game some time ago and I was amazed at the behaviour of a particular player which went unseen by the officials. The reason for the missed behaviour was that the officials had the game to watch rather than focusing in on one player which was done by the camera person. I also believe that this type of matter can be dealt with in a calm professional manner without the need to single out and abuse the referee which results in the need to eject the offender.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Under high school (NFHS) the referee may stop the match and ask the school administrators to remove a spectator who is misbehaving. A parent who is in the stands generally can be ignored while a parent near the touchline can often interfere with the referee's focus on the game. Just as a principal would ask a parent who was unruly during a school assembly to leave, an administrator would do so at a high school athletic event.

Headbutting, and punching allowed in any sport? I don't think this is a serious question. It sounds like you still think the referees were making bad judgment calls. But, the general process is for coaches and school administrator's to contact the high school referee assignors or associations about the performance of the referees (often providing game film), and my experience is that the associations and assignors are very responsive when referees fail to protect the players.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Three NFHS rules/Situations mention spectators and the rules governing their behavior.

1-6 says that spectators must be at least 10 feet from the touch line, team/official areas and goal line. No one shall be permitted directly behind either goal unless seated in the bleachers.

1.6 Situation indicates that if the spectators are not 10 feet away as indicated in 1-6, the game may be terminated.

Although not indicated in the NFHS rules, most states require that the host team have a game manager or school administrator present at the contest. The referee should report the problem spectator to the game manager who will then deal with the spectator. Often the game manager will notice and take care of the problem spectator before being asked to do so by the referee. One of the referee's pre-game duties is to identify the game manager, and work out the procedure for taking care of problem spectators and other unusual situations or emergencies.

Rule5-3-2e indicates that officials have the authority to suspend or terminate a game whenever .....................spectators ........require.
As for the head butting (would be considered striking), pushing, punching, as indicated in Rule 12, they are all fouls and could even (depending on the severity) be disqualification or caution infringements. I really am not familiar with the locking of hands - please provide more detail on what you are talking about here.

I hope that you have a great fall soccer season.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Debbie,

Short answer YES
USA high school soccer is a teaching condition where they have a zero abuse policy in place!
I assume you are being flippant, those listed fouls, which I also assume in your opinion went unchallenged in the match you refer to, are not allowed in ANY soccer match!

Long winded philosophical answer read at you leisure or perhaps peril? lol'

You will find in any soccer venue there will be varying levels of competence and skill displayed among those who participate. From the strength and commitment of the league or organization through the entire regime of membership participants, players, parents, administrators, coaches managers, referees and fans. The accountability of each is a indictment of league or association in general. How well or serious do they take conflict resolution? Training, sharing and fixing not just assigning blame?

In the opinion of the referee', the much chanted mantra of our profession is an essential ingredient in the profile of a competent referee but will also form the basis for a less competent one as well! It can be painful and exasperating to endure what one have no control over, but it is a lousy excuse to lose control so that it forces those also attending the game to endure the additional pain and exasperation related to someone else's choices of dissenting antics.

Referee's 'Game management' is affected and often limited to his or her ability to withstand this pressure exerted by their peers, spectators, coaches, parents, players, political agendas, power agendas, local organisations, lobbyists and news media. Referee development is inter- dependant on the coaching and player development and the public education of parents and spectators. The potential for a match to go sideways if the referee is not correctly gauging these physical incidents is always possible. To be fair the judicious use of cards or even good officiating is NOT a guarantee players will behave or toe a line. The propensity to cheat, dive, whine or foul is still within the players own sphere of integrity

Comments that reflect a referee's integrity and abilities are not always unjustified, whether they are appropriate or not is another matter. We must consider the source and type of comments if we are sincere in raising the standards of officiating but they should presented in a format that is helpful to the league to deal with. Poor officiating does not benefit the referee anymore than the match or the players!

What format is there to record and report misconduct or actions of officials within your association?
What policies are in place to deal with situations such as you describe?
Can you report the conduct of this or any official in a way that might improve his awareness to anyone that could have influence, referee assignors, assessors, league representatives etc.

A well run league provides CLEAR channels of communication, those that pretend, having the appearance without the substance, foster needless disrespect and continual apathy between those that participate in the beautiful game at a FUN recreational level, seems ludicrous to think we cannot do better.
Failure to communicate effectively is a failure to those placed under our care and protection!

Dissent is rather like a forest fire, it starts out as a small match, jumps to campfire status, throwing a bit of light and heat on the situation which actually enlightens the surroundings! Yet when it jumps beyond, into raging infernos, uncontrolled dissent, like a burning forest, takes down everything in its path. The attitudes and demeanour of those around you are also consumed by the unleashed firestorm of protest that springs forth. Caught up in a maelstrom of disenchantment:
- at the perpetrator of the dissent, for being the cause of their anxiety
- at the officials, for not being able to put out the fire,
- at themselves, for failing to remember their part in fire prevention on the field which is to stamp out the flames of abuse as a collective action...

I often consider the life force of officiating within the hearts of many recreational referees (myself included) is the effect we have both on and away from the pitch. The concept of integrity, highlights an essential life force element of a referee's character! While every choice has ramifications, it is in the honor of the position of trust that one makes the correct choice for the right reason, one can not honor the truth without integrity. As a result of this illumination , I developed a life defining realization, 'A referee with integrity sees what he sees!' I referee with such ease now I find it hard to imagine how I struggled with the useless chaff that accompanies so much of what we do!

Over time I developed an unusual pattern of perception whereby I saw the game differently when playing the game as a needful player, watching the game as a biased fan, cheering as a proud parent, invested in the outcome as a coach and as a supposedly neutral referee! Referees often find themselves in an unenviable positions where a decision made in a split-second could be devastating to the aspirations of a player, team, city, even nation. In an article I wrote long ago entitled ' Are we still on the same side when we disagree? ' I remarked there are four points of view from which a game is seen.

1 players see what they feel to see
2 coaches sees what they want to see
3 spectators see what they think they see
4 a referee with integrity sees what he sees

While we can not perhaps compare recreational to elite level football, played for gain rather than pleasure. The adversarial attitudes that occasionally surround recreational football are often created by the need for a result or favourable outcome, not just the concern over safety .

Within the confines of competitive football the spectre of the Spirit of the Game Laws are in essence the framework of the unwritten LAW 18 known as 'Common Sense' (not always so common< sigh) which indirectly, affects, modifies and controls all the other 17 Laws. There are programs in effect that lay the groundwork to foster goodwill and accountability within the soccer world. The Respect program put forth by FIFA and national organizations. I often use terms like "eek " (effort, enjoy, know) or "the 3 Rs" (Respect for others, Respect for self, Responsibility for your actions) to remind those involved in soccer of their obligations to others, particularly in a fun recreational setting.
There is a reason why there is a physical aspect to being a referee :-) You can not call what you do not see. Players, coaches, parents, fans and pundits can possibly get over a mistake but they will destroy you with dissent if you if you fail to show heart and are so far away from play you have to whistle all the time to be heard!
Smile, not like a grinning idiot, but as one who appreciates that life is a gift, and that knowing laughter is the gift of life!
the LOTG not just by reading them but by recognizing when they have been broken on the field of play. Know who did it! what to do with it, where to go to do it, when to do it and why you did it!

I have maintained a belief, flawed though it might be, is players must adapt to a referee as a match condition and the BEST the players can hope for is impartiality, fairness and consistency! Notice I did not say perfection or mention foul recognition or law understanding even though knowledge of the LOTG and reading the foul tolerance of the players are fundamental to the development of a referees ability to do well.

As a player, fan, parent, and as a coach, I consider the referee as a MATCH condition, one that you adapt to, much like the weather or pitch surface. Good or bad, stormy or sunny, rain or shine, slippery or dry you find your way through!!

As a referee I try to be as consistent a condition as I can, so the players, fans, parents, and coaches, will know what to expect! The key to a good official is in my opinion the ability to crack a smile, humour and compassion, integrity and effort, knowledge and application of it.

As a player, fan or coach I realize I want my team to win, as a parent my child to do well and be safe! If I spot something that, in my opinion, is contrary to those outcomes, I likely feel vindicated to point it out, knowing full well nothing I say or do will change anything, just a release of emotional disappointment and/or a cry of support for our girls or boys playing.

As a referee I have a rather selective hearing condition. My skin is thick enough to deflect the mutterings of the disenchanted unless the flames of dissent are firing up everyone else as well. The right to free speech and righteous indignation of knowing your opinion is correct, all that right, yet to publically, persistently and personally heap the coals on the officials right up to the point where the referee halts the game to deal with you?

In my opinion, to be SO concerned with a spectator, it the equivalent of being one of those goofy smoking flares that get tossed on the pitch creating a dense fog and flames where the safety of the match is now endangered not only from the actions of the spectator/flare but the resulting mob mentality to participate in further mayhem. If you are THAT guy or girl in the stands or along the touchlines attracting THAT much attention, from an official, then wow! Think on the vibes you are giving off to everyone around you?? What about the rights of everyone else?

We must accept accountability for our actions even if outraged at others who in our opinion are failing in theirs. Know the consequences for not managing our self control on the touchlines. Try to be respectful and understanding knowing how referees are subjected to an amazing amount of abuse by players, fans, coaches and parents, who all know better just not how to act better! We have control over our own actions and attitudes nothing more, a positive approach reduces unnecessary anxiety and distraction! I fully recognize the frustration of coaches, players, parents, fans and yes even ARs (I have been all of them over 50 years worth lol) witnessing the game management techniques of a center referee who, in their opinion or ( is it now considered a fact? ;o) is having a less than perfect game! Not to preach dogma the last perfect person according to some was JC and they nailed him to a cross. Cut the referee some slack! Who knows where on the learning curve they are! Record, report and follow through if there are concerns, for ALL concerned! The upset of it all is no matter how good we are or how hard we try 50% of those watching still think we suck on any given day. lol


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