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Question Number: 31009

Other 11/11/2016

RE: Travel Under 15

Kathy Gomez of Howell, NJ United States asks...

I am forwarding a letter I wrote to my association that has gone ignored. I would love for you to steer me in a direction where I can get discipline for this ref. I appreciate any guidance you can offer.
I have followed rules and did not speak to the ref at the game, call out or entice others to do so. I have sent emails daily to the secretary and referee disciplinary committee. The referee assignor in charge got back to me saying he would look into who the ref was and look at his notes. The secretary has not responded.
I have included my original email
I am reaching out to you because I do not feel this is being addressed the way it should be. This ref bullied my daughter. This is my last attempt to ask that this be addressed within the league. His behavior should not go without consequence. My daughter is still very upset about this. I have two teams full of parents and players who witnessed what he did. He did not follow protocol on how a referee should behave. I followed how a parent should behave. And now I am being ignored. It took a lot of restraint not to say a word. I listened to my daughter's coaches. They said go through the right channels...Don't let the team get a fine.
I ask that you address this matter and let me know what you find. I am available to meet with you and let you know exactly what happened. My daughter is available, as well. I am sure the parents and players would be willing to meet with you, as they are as outraged as I am. (My daughter's team actually huddled around her after the ref berated was just that egregious). I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you. I would like to file a formal complaint against, what I deem, the worst ref in history. (Sunday 11/6/2016 10:00 game ) He stopped the game to scream in my daughter's face. He had her backing up like he was ready to fight her, reducing her to tears. She tried to walk away, after she apologized (for doing nothing other than saying ref can you watch these girls they are pushing a lot). He wouldn't let her walk away, instead called her back over to him to scream some more. Her own father has never screamed in her face like that.
I am a teacher of over 20 years. I have never come close to screaming at a child the way he did. After the game I wanted to say publicly embarrassed my daughter and now you can publicly apologize. However, I was not afforded that opportunity. As I approached, the ref told my coaches to 'get her away from me'. I couldn't believe he was able to scream and berate my daughter on the field but I wasn't allowed to speak to him and offer the opportunity for him to right his wrong. Believe me, this letter would have been written anyway. He should not be allowed to ref games. Period. This may not be the only letter written. People were pretty disgusted by his actions.
I would like this matter addressed and a follow up email, please.

Kathy Gomez

Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Kathy,
I can sympathise as a parent and understand the desire to protect our kids from harm. It is always a sad moment when there is a controversy created by the interactions of an official and a player. Please understand we are a group of volunteer referees who try very hard to give good advise and competent evaluations of the LOTG but we have no relationship with your association nor do we wish to interfere in their proceedings. I do agree you deserve an answer and some sense that your concerns are addressed in a professional and reasoned manner by those who set up and are in charge of the league.
Everyone, including the referee should be held accountable to fulfill their responsibilities. I will say it was unfortunate to think you could approach him right after a match and expect a calm reasoned response when emotions are set to boil. The best advice, when you witness conduct that has no place in the game, is to proceed as you have done, get away from the heated exchanges, contact those in charge and seek a solution or at least a reasonable explanation. Any decent league or association should have avenues for pursuing unacceptable behaviour from its members in any capacity. From what I can tell you did and things are NOW in the pipeline. I checked in on the soccer site they seem to have strict protocol with regards to going up the pipeline

Not sure your email to the referee assignor or president was well received given they request you proceed through their secretary but given the RA did respond he was looking into the matter, perhaps some patience is in order? It appears the person responsible to initiate some action HAS your letter ? If the referee assignor has responded, the secretary may well feel the baton is passed? It was Nov. 6th so lets give them time to meet or phone and discuss or seek out a quorum to decide what course or response they wish to follow. These are rarely paid positions but volunteer so between their jobs and their hobby some delay is to be expected. Note we have deleted all name references given you are seeking outside information.

We do not offer excuses on the behalf of officials who fail to conduct themselves in a credible manner. We generally applaud the nature of an individual who chooses to accept the responsibility of a refereeing job be it as volunteer so his kids can play or a way of making some extra cash or like many of us because we love the game and enjoy participating. However, only that official knows their heart and mindset involved. The personal life of an official, how they react to stress or carry other headaches onto the pitch and how this affects their interactions is one we cannot know. I know that dissent or complaining might seem innocuous but over time it gets to be a big deal perhaps your daughter tagged in at the wrong time, saying the wrong thing?

I as many of my colleagues, have refereed thousands of matches! All of us at sometime have had accusations, recriminations and even threats made against us. I can say without reservation, that as much as we made mistakes or acted in a manner what was perceived as an irresponsible, it was never done on purpose to create controversy.

I have shown the red card to youth at as young an age as 12. I have publically addressed onfield player behaviour in what might partially fit your description for actions that I considered as heinous and unacceptable. I like to think I was not frothing at the mouth but there was no doubt my stern tone and what was said and how it was said could be deemed as unsettling. Their parents felt perhaps I had over stepped my authority but that does not excuse the player's actions nor perhaps does it justify my own. As adults we need to remind ourselves that to the younger aged players we can come across as bullies even if we believe the youth need their butts kicked for some of the onfield garbage we witness.. I had one young lad complain to his mom and dad that I had threatened him. They were livid, wanted my head on a platter. I was actually irritated they wanted me to apologise for supposedly scaring him when they could not grasp his actions were reprehensible and in dire need of some counselling. Eventually I did meet with them in a less intense situation, away from the pitch and we settled our differences even if we were none too happy over the incident. Perception and truth are not always in agreement when discussing the character, attitude and behaviour of the referee. .

I suggest you allow some time before getting too irritated. I know it bothers you to think you are being ignored but I have every confidence that whether you get satisfaction or not, those in the chain of command are looking into the circumstances, trying to get an accurate picture of the whys, what's and how this unfortunate event occurred and what can be done to correct it or prevent its reoccurrence! Perhaps there is a monthly association meeting you could attend? We would be interested in how this plays out so return if a month goes by or when you receive an answer or solution .

From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of fair play

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

It is a normal custom for leagues, associations, bodies to deal formally with and through its member clubs. This bring a process to procedures whereby a club makes a formal complaint on behalf of a player, individual etc through its secretary. That perhaps could be a reason for the lack of a reply or indeed it could be simply be that the body has not got around yet to replying.
My advice is that the club could be asked through its secretary to make a formal complaint to the referee assignor who may be able to deal with the matter.
USSF has Policy 531-10 which deals with Misconduct of Game Officials and it can be viewed here at

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Kathy,
I don't have too much to add to what my colleagues have mentioned but I would echo what they have said in that it is very early yet, to expect any official response. I used to be part of a committee that reviewed team protests, allegations of misconduct etc. We were all volunteers with full-time jobs and we only met once or twice a month. When we had cases of alleged misbehavior to look at, whether by coaches, spectators, players, referees etc it often took us a week or two to gather all the evidence. If we decided it was necessary, we would then schedule a hearing where various witnesses could present their evidence. So at least for us, it would often be a couple of weeks before we would start the official process and then a couple more weeks after that to come to any kind of resolution.

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