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Question Number: 31137

Character, Attitude and Control 12/29/2016

Jason of Wylue, TX USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31127

How does this apply to coaches, bench players and parents? I have witnessed many cases of a player dribbling down the touchline next to a coach or parent touchline, and seen them winch or flinch when there is a loud scream right as they pass by. I generally try to stop that kind of behavior early on by talking to the coach, but the excuse I always get is, 'I'm just giving instruction to my players.'. That may be the case, but if it happens right as an opposing player goes by and causes a distraction, is there anything under the LOTG that can be done?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Your options when dealing with coaches are limited, and are often summarized as Ask, Tell, Dismiss. You can ask them to stop the behavior. If that doesn't work you can tell them to stop it; this step can be accompanied by also telling the coach that you will be reporting his behavior (equivalent to a caution for a player, but coaches are not cautioned). If it gets beyond that, you dismiss the coach from the field and the surrounding area.

For spectators, the only tool you have is to tell the coach that the game will not proceed unless the spectator leaves the area. If the spectator refuses, or the coach declines to deal with it, you terminate the game. Obviously this a last resort that you would only use for extreme behavior.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jason,
lol welcome to recreational soccer 101. The course of brays that confound confuse and conflict the players on the field are many and varied . Perhaps a few shout outs are designed to cause panic but most are well meaning, thought of as instructional and in support of the team. The fact this conduct often is a negative, rarely enters their minds! Hence they can be irritable when approached to desist..

It really boils down to how important an issue is it for those playing? If t truly adversely affects them it behooves you to intercede and try to mitigate such utterances. Sometimes you can point out the kids reactions! Those who are uttering the incendiary loud or game altering comments are often unaware how such overpowering excitement is being transmitted to the kids via the tone and strength of their voice.

We often grin and bear the burden of getting a headache from the bombastic, but IF it TRULY affects the kids we often ask the coaches to HELP out with the touchline antics of their players (who we can discipline if we must) and the spectators who we have little control over. Not to say a quiet word might calm the exuberant parent.

I recall One VERY LOUD but very positive praiseworthy parent was running along the touchlines yelling for his team and his kids to go Go GO! at the top of his impressive lungs. Unfortunately his antics were so boisterous the girls chasing the ball along the touchlines literally came screeching to a stop scared witless by his arm waving screaming, ' GET TO THAT BALL!' and watched cowering as the ball exited the FOP. I blew my whistle quite forcefully!
We had a friendly heart to heart, very pleasant conversation explaining while there was no one more positive than he in support of his team, his antics were scaring the bejeezus out of the kids from BOTH teams and he REALLY needed to dial it back. I made no threats of stopping the match or ordering him to behave. I simply used this incident to point out HOW he was interjecting himself. He realized, apologized and was good as gold. The coach from his team came over and asked what was my magic formula since this parent had been a rather sizable thorn all season. Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious and the good hearted will often see it for what it was!

Of course you get attitude or belligerence use the coach as a buffer and if you must, explain to the coach failure to stop the intrusions could result in abandonment if the touchlines become unfit or unsafe for the players. The coach himself , if a problem , I generally ask please , then a firm warning, I only think dismiss if the actions persist are so match disrupting they force me to do something drastic.
Most often I am aware enough to calm things but there are those that think different and are unwilling to abide by my decisions, creating confrontation. How it ends depends on the my tolerance of their behavior. We can cut a guy SOME slack knowing how perception and pressure works against sound judgment. I can agree to disagree and move past many things. However, the bearer of ill tidings will have a problem if I can not find it within me to do so.
As in most things there is a line to be crossed , a limit reached and consequences good or bad in every decision made!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jason,
Under the Laws of the Game, the referee:

''takes action against team officials who fail to act in a responsible manner and may expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds''

As ref Voshol says, it is usual to take a 'stepped approach' and warn coaches before dismissing them.

Substitutes may be cautioned or dismissed for any act of misconduct, based on the judgement of the referee.

When it comes to parents/spectators the referee had no direct power and as Ref Voshol also says, the usual course of action is to ask the home team representatives to intervene to modify any unacceptable behaviour. Hopefully this will have the desired effect but if the unacceptable behaviour continues at a severe enough level, the Laws say that in the end, as a last resort, the referee is entitled to 'stop, suspend or abandon the match [...] because of outside interference ...''

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jason
I would like to think that this type of situation would be unusual and probably only done by a few small minded individuals who bring unpleasant adult behaviours to underage games.
The referee if he becomes aware of this can intervene and warn the coach about his irresponsible behaviour and the stepped approach of Ask Tell and Dismiss can be used. If play has been stopped to deal with the behaviour then the restart is a dropped ball which can be an disadvantage to the team in possession in some situations. If the coach has stepped on to the field of play to interfere with play the new Laws allow for a direct free kick restart.
For me I would be using the full rigour of the Law to ensure that the offender does not benefit from such behaviour and I would be doing my upmost to restore equity to the offended against team. Underage games are not like openage games in that there can be unique competition rules to take account of the players young age. Unacceptable interference from the sidelines has to be dealt with. Depending on the circumstances I might go as far to invoke the new Spirit of the Game wording which reads * *Decisions will be made to the best of the referee`s ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.*. We know that if a substitute or substituted player or a player temporarily off the field was to do this which verbally distracts an opponent the restart, if play has been stopped to issue card, is an IDFK from where the ball was when play was stopped.

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