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: 31368

Law 5 - The Referee 3/19/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Rick Hartley of Leeds , West Yorkshire United Kingdom asks...

Can a referee swear at a player ? When a player asks for his reason for a decision?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Rick,
can he swear, absolutely! Should he? Not a good idea! Referees are expected to act in a calm dignified professional manner as befitting the respect their position commands. That said as a human being when the normal characteristics of a volunteer experiencing frustration and irritability set in and out pops an expletive particularly if it is a result of constant dissenting and nagging over that or other decisions should anyone be that surprised it does occur? In a perfect world no referee should swear at a player. In a perfect match no player should question a referee decision. It is not a perfect world but if a question is asked politely in a time and place where the referee is not distracted threatened or confused a player can get a less nasty reply but asking questions during a match is generally not the right time as play is most often continuous. That said acting responsibly is a requirement of ALL including the referee and being held accountable is something the league needs to deal with.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rick
Referees are expected to act at all times in a professional manner. Swearing at a player by a referee would be totally unacceptable behaviour and if proven then the referee can expect sanction.
The difficulty is getting the incident independently verified and reported and therein is the problem. For the referee that acts unprofessionally and in such manner he plays on the fact that it is difficult to prove it if said in a way that only a few players hear it.
I would advise any club to report the incident and give the facts. While it may be difficult to prove a pattern of such reported behaviour will result in action being taken.
I might add that like any walk of life there are a few that bring their group into disrepute. Pick any service such as police, schools, hospital and there are always a few that act unprofessionally.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31368
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

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.