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Question Number: 30934

League Specific 10/22/2016

RE: Rec Under 12

Dave of Liverpool, Merseyside UK asks...

Are coaches and parents expected to confirm to laws around verbal advantage. In my son's under 12 league screams of ' he doesn't want it' are common when a child of 12 is attempting to develop composure on the ball. Understandably such shouts create panic, loss of confidence and disadvantage to the young player on the ball who is hearing such screams. I've mentioned it to referees and they say they are powerless to do anything. Is this the case? I'd like to see parents and coaches using this harmful shout challenged.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Dave,
wisdom is the accumulation of experience and experience' teaches us as well as others for we learn from our own mistakes as well as avoiding the mistakes of others.

The advantage concept is one where a referee can gauge the skill and abilities of those playing to allow an attacking play or great scoring opportunity to come to fruition by the hard work and perseverance of those playing through adversity.

Youth soccer has less opportunity to apply effective advantage for a number of reasons. skill and tactical awareness for one but often for the simple fact when there is a foul they stop playing. In part because of confusion subject to being hurt and safety with expectations of a whistle but unfortunately in large part to overly loud or aggressive touchline screaming. I have had to talk to certain individuals regarding their verbal outcries and point out the effect they have on the kids from time to time. This is where the screams are so impacting it forces the youth of both teams to come to a screaming halt in shock or awe of the commands being given.
There will be coaches who will approach and ask for free kicks rather than advantage often because they have a solid player who can boom that ball with great power and either score or create a handling foul by blasting into the wall, scattering the more diminutive players, who think warding the ball away is the same as letting it hit then or turning and raising their arms above their heads is somehow not a deliberate act.
I actually awarded a foul to a team like this 15 yds. outside the PA . The wall breaks with turning players and arms raised above the head but the ball deflects to a single attacker at edge of the PA with no one but keeper, well out of position, in goal, ahead of her. I signal advantage and tell her to have a go but her coaches are screaming for a handball sigh and she is uncertain looking over at them. To a certain extent most everybody was suspended due to this tirade at the touchline and for an instant I thought perhaps I should just stop play but the young girl proceeded to goal shot and scored. Her coaches were still upset, even the opposing coach was unhappy I did not award the foul. BUT do you know who was happy? The young girl scoring her 1st goal and her mom and dad who got to see it! Tactically their big legged power kicker was an asset and in recognizing that I played very few advantages, but it is STILL our domain to make that call, asset or not! There are far too many times those on the touchline try to scream directions and yell about fouls real or imagined creating doubt, hesitation and at times tears to young players. There is a reason why associations have silent Sunday or Saturday games where ONLY praise is permitted or no sound at all. LET THE KIDS BLOODY PLAY AND JUST SHUT UP FOR ONCE! Let them learn what they can do by not cringing, stopping or straining to grasp what is being asked at every command flung at them from the touchline!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dave
There is nothing that a referee can do that deals with a shouting spectator that pressures a young player on the ball. It is just part of learning to deal with same and I believe that coaches can train players to be more composed.
As Referee Dawson points out some leagues have adopted silent games where spectators cannot shout into players. Many elite clubs, Manchester United and Chelsea included, ban parents from games until their mid-teens as they do not want parents shouting or giving instructions to their child contrary to the coaching instructions. They can view the game on close circuit TV in the clubhouse. European countries such as Spain and the Netherlands have made certain age grades non-competitive to improve development.
Horst Wein the respected soccer coach who passed away this year made the point that adults bring adult values to childrens games. Just as in times gone by he espoused that street football, or pick-up games that happen naturally are a great environment for kids to develop on their own without being over-coached or shouted at by adults.
Ferenc Puskas one of the greats of the game scored 84 goals in 85 international games for Hungary. On receiving honors for his soccer career, he is quoted as saying that he wanted to thank his father for all the advice he never gave him. And his father knew something about soccer having also played for Hungary.
I am of the view that rather than the responsibility for change be directed towards the referee only that it should be up to the clubs to educate the parents and spectators. The FA introduced the Respect Programme which places responsibilities on all participants including spectators

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

There is nothing in the Laws of the Game that addresses spectator behavior.

However, many rules of competition, especially for recreational leagues, will have something about courteous behavior. In that case, the referee can tell the coach to control the sidelines. If the coach refuses, the ref can terminate the game.

I had a dad at a U14G game yelling at a player. I told the coach that the dad has to stop. The coach said, 'It's his own daughter.' I responded, 'But she's MY player.' She shouldn't have to put up with comments that were distracting her from her game. And thus making her play even less well, generating more criticism.

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