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Question Number: 31620

Other 6/24/2017

RE: Youth Under 15

Ian Connell of Glasgow, Scotland asks...

If a referee in a youth Scottish cup tie is related to one of the teams coaches,is cousin. Is this a conflict of interest?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ian
It depends on the SFA Code of Conduct under which the competition is being played. Generally it is not a good idea for a referee or an assistant to be involved in a game where he is *associated* with a club in some way. The fact that such a conflict of interest question can be raised is not welcome yet there exists all sort of connections many of which are not relevant.
Now I note that the Scottish Youth FA states that for executive members conflict of interest refers to **spouse, close family member, person living at same residence has significant connections**. Is a cousin a close family member and perhaps it can be but not necessarily so. Does this list apply to match officials?
Many referees in such circumstances excuse themselves from such games on any possible conflict issue as they just do not want the accusation levied however tenuous. Their performance can be exemplary yet the innuendo remains that there was some conflict even when it clearly was not present.
There have been examples of complaints being made after games which is not a good situation for the match official to be in. I know of one high level game where a referee officiated a game involving his son and it made the national papers along with a referral to the national association. The result stood due to no exact rule yet many including the referee assignor said in hindsight that he believed that the game was excellently refereed, but looking back he would probably not have made the same decision again. The code advice simply states ** Be aware of the nature of dual relationships and where possible avoid such positions that could lead to the undermining of the Integrity of Refereeing or the good name of the Association** .
Many referees even if it is not explicitly stated in the code would politely excuse themselves for any connection as it is not worth the hassle and / or potential complants.
Now let me recount a story. As a Referee Secretary I received a complaint a number of years ago that a referee had refereed a game involving two nephews. The complaint came in from the losing team and when I investigated this I found that not be the case and the complaint was in error. The referee was not related to any player. He had the same name yet totally unrelated.
In your case perhaps the referee is not related or that the referee does not know the involvement of a relation on the coaching staff. My advice is that the club will have access to the referee assignor who should be contacted and asked if he is aware of this possible family *connection* and if he is happy to allow the appointment. He may follow this up with the referee and if he says there is no conflict then the matter is closed. I know of such a recent situation in an underage game and when the referee assignor, after the club contacted him, found that there was a connection between a player and the referee he simply swapped another referee to that game and reassigned the original referee to the other game.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ian,
cousins? hmm 1st or 2nd or 3rd how far removed, what integrity is there is if a bloodline dictates honesty? The appearance of impropriety perceived conflicts are inevitable in competitive matches. I would think when I refereed my own kids back in the youth days Some thought these thoughts, NOT my kids though, they felt I used them to set example of behaviour for others and if anything I was harder on them lol

I often find those that try to use phrases like, 'you can trust me or I am honest believe me' are likely full of BS. Those who have integrity rarely care or worry what others think because they know they have nothing to prove or hide. Yet as a pragmatist I would stay away from highly competitive international or regional matches as in FIFA not permitting referees of the country they come from to referee international matches. A friendly of course is different but to avoid even the hint of irregularity best not to involve yourself in complex matches of result orientated clubs or associations with family members playing or coaching. Most well organized associations will likely have bylaws and guidelines.

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