Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 29921

Mechanics 11/15/2015

RE: Rec, Select, High School Under 18

Randall of Orlando, FL United States asks...

After reading many of the thoughtful questions and responses on this site,I'm left wondering about 2 recent situations I encountered:

1. At a U9 game, a parent entered the FOP to adjust the GK's pinny while the ball was out for a goal kick. I politely and directly told the parent that this is not OK, and that he must not enter the field of play. He indicated his understanding, but remained for such a length of time that I ordered him off the field of play at least once more before he left. I immediately went to the home coach and told him to communicate with the parent (both primarily Spanish speakers from what i could ascertain) that he must stay off the field. The coaches nodded but never did speak to him as far as I could tell. The parent then entered the field of play again (to bring a water bottle to the center circle even tho all players had access to water at the bench) at the conclusion of a league-mandated water break , just as i was about to whistle the restart. At this point, i told the coach to tell the parent he must leave the immediate surrounds. Too harsh?

2. Also, where, and how, should we draw the line with a coach who argues EVERY call loudly and vehemently, but is never personally insulting or profane. 'You know you saw that ref, come on ref that's a foul etc.' He even continues after the games (i have the pleasure of dealing with him almost every week). I've given him plenty of warnings, which i realize are worthless if i don't follow through and dismiss him, but, again, i don't want to be too harsh and (overly) authoritarian. Thanks much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Randall
At Under 9 unfortunately Moms and Dads can get too involved and in the manner you describe. My advice is that unless it is affecting the game I would not be overly harsh in dealing with the situations. At older age groups then certainly action should be taken.
In this situation I think fixing equipment that a young player might not be able to do perhaps with gloves and bringing on water are on the low scale of interference when coupled with the fact that the U9 may not know to ask.
My advice is to do the least possible and not to get overly strict. It is by the way about having fun.
On your second question some coaches just simply complain and question every call. When it is not personal nor interfering with the game I believe the best approach is to blank the comments. The coach wants and needs a reaction and when that is not forthcoming he may decide that there is no point.
After the game I might perhaps use some humour. If he is whining I might tell him that refereeing could use some new referees and that he seems to know all the laws and if he wants to referee then become one. I would not get confrontational and as you say warnings dont work. Try to break the cycle of endless repeats of the past. When someone behaves in a certain way a chain reaction is set up within the referee which in turn causes him to respond in some way usually the expected referee way which then creates a chain reaction within the other person and the cycle continues. I might question his reasoning for his shouting. He may think that if he is not doing this that he is not coaching. He also may think that the U9 dont listen so he has to pick the only other person that might which is the referee. I recall a referee colleague who knew that a coach was a taxi driver asking the coach would he allow passengers to shout at him at work LOL. Point made. Sometimes we just get too consumed in the role that we dont look for the social part or the human part or just change the circumstances to break the endless cycle.
If the coachs behaviour is interfering with the game then that is a different matter and needs to be dealt with using the Ask, Tell, Remove approach.
It is outlined here.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Randal,
(1) Be it running concessions or cheering and supporting the kids at the match level. Parents are an invaluable resource. They are coaxers cheerleaders, fixers, doctors, nurses and support staff. Language barriers or not ,the concern parents have for their kids welfare is... UNIVERSAL.. in scope, thus a referee must be open to this fact.

Whether there are conditional restrictions for field use, where teams are on one side of the pitch in their technical areas, spectators on the other side opposing, no one behind goals etc.. but it applies to a more normal 11 aside regulation match! It is more at u-10 where parents are requested not to be as actively involved in the match as they might be at the mini match stage once we are 11 aside the game is afoot

When functioning as an association director, I often encouraged policies where parents are to be actively involved at the mini match level of surrounding the FOP to keep the ball inside the boundary lines deflecting it back in. Holding water bottles, Bring the snacks. I am a big proponent of it is NOT a baby sitting service.!They act in a reasonable manner , assisting the coaches by request. Pump up the balls, transport equipment. Time players on the field. Shoelace patrol and proper dress for cold weather. Positive comments only!

Fixing a piece of equipment, tying a shoelace or bringing in water at a break can be a designated parent helping but if the league restricts their help by having guidelines stating parents can not interfere on the pitch I'd rather ask the coach to ensure those parents who are NOT supposed to be on the field leave. Before I directly try being as you say., mini Hitler and authoritarian over bearing attitude at mini matches is likely to not be great for reputation. Try for Firm and compassionate! I know you like to help sir but please let the coaches designate who does what. I appreciate you looking out for the kids! I just need you to be aware we cannot permit random adults to walk into an out of the field, no matter their good intentions. Thank you sir! Please talk it over with their coaching staff perhaps they can include you in someway?

GUIDELINES, a RESPECT program, a no ABUSE policy, a monitoring and feedback system that has credibility and function!

When an adult is acting inappropriately I often try to use the coach to get the message across by telling the coach he either fix this as I hold him responsible for his teams touchline behaviour. Often the parents are around the kids and team at youth more than sitting in say the stands. The coach must in my opinion try to respond to your request in some fashion. Or explain the actions satisfactorily. I will only go after the coach for expulsion or warnings if I see NO action on his part to TRY to contain a situation. If the adult is a twerp and refuses to comply, I do not necessarily hold a coach completely responsible As a coach, I have had on a very few occasion talked to a parent and suggested that they leave the general area and refrain from referee abusive comments to go and cool down. When general dissatisfaction was running high I also commented out loud to the entire touchline to calm down and think about the examples we are setting for our kids playing!

Sometimes just a gentle reminder does the trick. I had a very active over eager shall we say exuberant supportive parent who surely must have challenged his kid's coach, as well as his kid, in the very, VERY loud explosive bursts of cheerleading running along the touchlines literally screaming at the top of his lungs . He would dash to the edge of the field cup his hands and lean out to yell what he obviously thought were great instructions or comments of support. What he did do was have the u-12 girls literally come to a screeching halt and let the ball run out of play traumatized by the sudden outburst right beside them as they were pursuing the ball. This was players from both teams! Now I was on the opposite side of the field from where the teams technical area were. I went over to the parent looked him directly in the eyes and said, ' It is obvious you are their number 1 supporter, your enthusiasm is undeniable but do you grasp you really scared the bejesus out of those girls so badly that while running for the ball they actually stopped playing? You are being far too loud and intense in your actions and comments and I really need you to please take it down several notches OK? He was embarrassed but I think understandably so, just not in a ridiculed way and dutifully complied, even after the game, he came over and apologised . I said there is no need to apologize for loving and supporting your kids just remember they are watching you for examples of how to behave and act. The coach of the team also came over and shook my hand and commented his thanks for solving what had been a bit of headache for him LOL

(2) Ah yes the Beakers and Squeakers B&S


Your limit will be your limit, you will set it and those in attendance will know!

That either you permit too much or you are intolerant and fussy, such is the truth of perception!

Annoying B&S yup it is in fact BS that coaches do this as it is annoying, unproductive, creates a mood or attitude disproportionate to the FUN of a soccer match. Still a referee has rabbit ears , selected hearing and a protective thick skin so unless a distinct personal attack is inferred or the comments are affecting the match in a negative fashion you tune it out! A referee is also aware low level dissent is a communicative aspect of a match in it is unwise not to know if any thing is happening which you are unaware of. I had a persnickety coach whining about everything which made it hard to believe his comments reflected any truth of things I could have missed but the other coach made a few comments at the start of the 2nd half on specifics that caught my attention in behind play. On a corner kick I held it up but went to my AR and whispered some instructions . I sorted out the melee and blew the whistle to restart . In coming ball is cleared away but I look over and my AR who had made his way sprinted in along the goal line from the opposing corner had his flag up and waving points to a defender nods his head and I go over show a red card and expel him from the FOP. He was a big arrogant fellow who had decided to intimidate a smaller Sikh player with a top knot cover on his head was ragging him taunting him by calling him a sand (the now unsayable N word) when he thought no one was around. It is isn't that we do not listen to B&S, we simple choose how to! My AR coming in from the rear overheard the actual comments and OFFINABUS was the result.

For a coach to overstep his reasoned behaviour mandate in issuing tactical instructions within his technical area? He will have to exit that area onto the field, he will have to engage my ARs, he will have to blatantly threaten me or defy my instructions or call me a cheat, he will have to endanger the safety or well being of his players opposing players or anyone else. Otherwise let the bloody knob blubber all he wants! He sees what he wants he is emotional tied up in the result and he cannot keep his mouth shut we really do not care UNLESS it escalates in ranting and raving lunacy.

I have found to engage irritated coaches even if only to ask they remain reasonable in their actions trying NOT to find a reason to expel them. They want a platform of outrage to rail us from, my suggestion, do not give it!


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 29921
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 29930

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.