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Question Number: 29778

Character, Attitude and Control 10/4/2015

Jeff of Seattle, WA USA asks...

I have a question regarding the 'morality' of some calls you make or don't make

This weekend, I was an AR on a game and there was a loud parent behind me who was doing a lot of coaching from the sideline. I didn't care much.

But there was an offside call I made early in the game where I heard him say 'Oh, didn't look like offside to me' (of course against his team), and then there were a few offside calls where he was behind me saying 'OH OFFSIDE BY A MILE! BY A MILE!' which may have been offside by half a step even after the center talked to him (so he said these things quieter).

Because this person was such a jerk all game, I purposely did not call these very close offside calls just to spite him and make him angry. Once he started trying to judge my refereeing and think he could influence my calls, he crossed a line and decided to take it out on his players.

Do you know people who will purposely make or ignore calls due to the actions of players or coaches?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jeff,
as tempting as it might be, I can not in conscience suggest you punish a team because one of the them or any of their supporters are jerks. As a ...neutral... official you are not afforded the luxury of being able to stick it to him punishing someone else. When people decide to demonstrate their ignorance by trying to ridicule or create doubt on the credibility of officials we usually just ignore their whimpers of stupidity. UNLESS their actions are being emulated or cause safety concerns then the CR must be informed and the team , coach or officials can be notified the outside foolishness is to stop or the match will! If players or team officials are the root cause then as demonstrable misconduct the power of law 5 entitles you to warn, caution or remove them. I can say though I know of several individuals who tended to be belligerent as spectators , player and coaches. I tended to not allow them the leeway of starting in with abuse or dissent without a clear warning my tolerance is minimal you do as you like and I will do the same! Consistency is the key but low level dissent or their grumblings I have it in for them are afforded the same courtesy as I give to all players. It is not a problem, until they make it a problem.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
Unfortunately human nature does at times gets in the way of officiating. What you have described does I feel happen and it crosses a line in the referee code of ethics which states that referees will conduct themselves honourably at all times and maintain the dignity of the position. I personally dont like it when referees are influenced by outside factors or make spiteful decisions. A good referee trait is to forget easily past experiences and not to carry baggage in decision making. Unfortunately this parent caused you to cross a line with decisions that themselves were not major yet nonetheless if in your opinion they were offside then should have been called. It is one thing to not make a call because it is in opinion doubtful or trifling yet completely different when done / not done knowingly to spite. Yes it is difficult and it can be sorely tempting to *take it out* on the offender or his side by making a decision or to ignore something. That though stoops to the same level as the initiator. I feel the much better and rewarding response is to respond in the opposite fashion which is not to care how provoked one is yet to maintain ones credibility and professional integrity. A sort of * you know what you are a jerk yet I have stayed above all that and doing the task to the very best of my ability*. To drop to the lower level also runs the high risk that to the neutral it can look like * Hey that jerk is right because those decisions are plainly wrong*. Certainly a match observer will care little for the reasons for incorrect offside calls. It will simply result in a poor score. Also when I get in the car to go home I never have to concern myself that any decision was made for reasons other than in my opinion it was the correct decision made without fear or favour.
In hindsight here this spectator / parent if he was interfering with your duties, to such an extent that you could not ignore him, then you could have asked the referee to have him removed to a different location once he persisted.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

It happens to the best of us; it's only natural to think about bending decisions to harm the loudmouths. When it's a coach that has been harping on every little call all game long, you hear him again and think he's just mouthing off again and it skews your view of the situation.

That said, we need to try to keep ourselves above all that, and call the game fairly.

The opposite can also happen, that a referee is bullied into making calls in favor of a loudmouth. We really need to avoid that.

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