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Question Number: 29221

Character, Attitude and Control 3/2/2015

RE: Rec Under 9

Cayley of Evans, Georgia United States asks...

I am a USSF certified referee. I ref all age groups, but this incident happened with U-8 females whom I have been reffing for the past two nights. This particular coach caught my attention on the first night with his open challenge of the Laws of The Game and my authority. On the second night, he progressed to loudly questioning my authority and making inappropriate comments about me. I wouldn't hesitate to report him normally, but the fact that I am both younger than him and a female has given me hesitation. My question is, should I report the coach?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Cayley,
utterly disgusted at the coaches' inappropriate actions, thank you for supporting youth soccer and for having the courage to officiate.
My recommendation is YES you report him for the whining bully that he is! Your league or association MUST have a policy in place to deal with these foul cretins. They must be held responsible and accountable for their actions by their peers.

Were there other adults in the vicinity of these matches i.e. parents and grandparents just watching this outrage unfold without comment? Confrontation makes liars of us all at times! Scared to speak up, but also silence in the face of abuse is the sin of consent. Any decent association should have a respect program and codes of conduct that should be signed and part of the preseason education. Making EVERYONE aware and accountable for their duty to the kids and one another.

Given some of the sickening and perverted comments made in recent news from adult males around the world about women in general! As a woman and as a referee, as a member of the bloody human race you deserve and in fact they are obligated to honour you with respect even if they disagree with how you officiate a little kids match.

I encourage you to find good mentors who are good referees willing to speak the hard truths as well as dole out the easy praise, look to be assessed regularly as you progress, train and expand your knowledge as you continue to referee! All good referees self evaluate and go over each match in the post game thinking about setting that pregame bar a bit higher each time. I hope you find the strength of conviction to referee with confidence, tempered with humility, to act courageous and with compassion and make the right decision while admitting you could be wrong. Respect for yourself and others, holding yourself accountable for your actions but FULLY aware you are NOT responsible for THEIR actions and will hold them accountable by placing the welfare of the players , your team and those in attendance above the ranting's of the ill tempered or abusive individuals that plague the touchlines.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Cayley
While it does not surprise me Im nonetheless as always extremely disappointed that a coach at an Under 9 game behaves in such a manner. It goes against all the Fair Play principles espoused by FIFA, USSF and local associations. It plainly should not happen. I also question what the other persons at the game were doing and their tolerance of this. The ULittles game is a collective effort on the part of teams, coaches, parents, officials etc and collectively this should not be tolerated or allowed.
My advice here and it is difficult to give not knowing the full circumstances as to how the coach needs to be dealt with . If it was myself I would be stopping the game and speaking with the coach. I would tell him that his questioning of the referees authority and making inappropriate comments is not going to be allowed and if he persists he will be ejected from the game. If there is no other responsible adults present to continue to manage the team the game is over. He should also be told that he will reported to the competition authorities.
Now where the referee feels unable to do that because of hesitation or uncertainty or personal concerns the referee has a number of options. The referee should seek support either from the competition organisers or a senior referee mentor or the referee could simply decline to continue. Speak with the organisers and inform them of this inappropriate behaviour. A competition official may attend the game and witness firsthand the totally unacceptable behaviour. That person could then confront the coach and have it dealt with or he could support the referee in whatever disciplinary action is taken.
I recall a few seasons ago when an unofficial referee who was doing a game because of the shortage of referees simply abandoned the game when he was being verbally abused by a coach. He simply walked off the field of play and said that he did not have to take that abuse from anyone. He did not have to confront anyone and I admired his stance and approach. Referees in general don't do this because they believe it may show that they can't manage the game etc or that it is a sign of weakness in dealing with difficult scenarios. I believe that it is the opposite.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Cayley,

I'm sorry to hear about your experience. It blows my mind just how appallingly some coaches act, particularly at this age group. There's absolutely no need for it.

I would encourage you to submit an incident report about everything that happened (when you do, report word-for-word as much as possible). I guarantee you that you're not the only one he is attacking.

As for how you can handle it in game, remember that anybody at the field is subject to your authority. This is granted to you by the Laws of the Game and that badge on your referee's shirt.

At young ages I would personally tolerate far less dissent and abuse than at older ages. My tolerance level at this age group would be close to zero. It's just appalling.

Once it starts crossing the line, you can approach him and ask him to leave the refereeing to you and keep his comments to coaching the team. If he argues that point, you can remind him that you're the referee, he's the coach, and you're not going to discuss it further.

Of course if it continues/escalates, or it's already become quite nasty, then at a stoppage in play approach him, tell (not ask) him that he needs to keep his comments to coaching and any further outburst will mean he will be removed from the game. If he continues, then tell him he needs to leave the vicinity of the field. If he refuses, simply abandon the match.

If he's making sexist comments, then that's grounds for immediate dismissal.

He may be questioning the fact that you're a female referee, but don't let that make you question the fact. Gender is irrelevant; on the field you're the referee. And don't worry about being younger than him - I've sent off plenty of people who have been involved in the game longer than I've been alive!

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Cayley,
those answering have indicated their displeasure of conduct unbecoming a gentleman. Your responsibility as a referee is to ensure that such an individual is held accountable for such abusive / obtuse behaviour.

A referee has a duty to act appropriately. Not to abuse your authority of power,' Do as I say or else! We are not dictatorial or threatening in nature but preventative! Our authority enables one to overcome the distaste of confrontation by not accepting a standard of behaviour that imperils a match, the safety of the players or the well being of your self and crew. KNOWING we have the full backing of the LOTG and an association dedicated to our defence should it be required.

(1st warning)
Please sir do not embarrass yourself or me by such needless outbursts

(2nd warning)
I am warning you, to desist this behaviour or face expulsion!

It never ceases to amaze me how a young person holding the ball under their arm can find the courage to point to the stands and say to an obnoxious overbearing adult, whether he/she gets embarrassed, enraged or breaks down in tears!

(Final warning)
Sir, I asked you politely, I told you what could happen. You have continued to act in an irresponsible manner! This game will not continue with you present. I am dismissing you from the match! I expect you to send in your own report to go along with my incident report explaining your actions.

No matter the provocation, a referee cannot wallow in the trenches of abuse in a reciprocal fashion. I know it is a game, there are kids and what small amount of pay hardly makes up for the ugly bitter feelings others can induce. Stay calm, professional, be without prejudice! Do your best to not get emotionally embroiled in a bitter struggle or lose heart in a great game because an individual loses his/her way.

We are not smug or fulfilled in sending off or dismissing the foolish or the abusive. We accept the responsibility and accountability that comes with a job! We are both saddened in that we had to do what we did and relieved we had the authority to do so. Evaluate each match. each decision to find the clues of where it unravels and look to fix problems, find solutions not affix blame. Humility brushed with confidence, respect for self and others, courage of conviction includes being brave enough to be wrong, compassionate and understanding is not foolish nor naivety, a willingness to smile with and be laughed at for a sense of humour puts a smile on the upside down frown.

Do not let your gender be used against you, nor your size or age or lack of experience. To stand tall is to rise above the pettiness of discord. Have a little faith in the power of integrity and give meaning to the words honour and duty by actioning the principles not mouthing the words!


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