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Question Number: 31641

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/10/2017

RE: Competitive Under 10

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, CA Sacratomato asks...

In a game I was working as a single official, the ball is rolling on its way out of bounds with no players near the ball. A parent gets up from his seat and picks up the ball as it is about to touch the line (well before ball is off the pitch). I instructed the parent to wait until the ball clears the line completely before trying to be helpful next time. The parent became belligerent and started barking at me. I instructed the parent to leave, picked up the ball and turned to the coach. The coach did not want to get involved. At this point, I signal towards my watch to let them know time is running and the game will not continue until the parent leaves. By now, the situation became awkward and the parent finally decided to leave. My next move was to ask the coach to leave if the parent did not leave. I am familiar with this coach and I am confident he would have left the field if instructed.

For a split second, I was tempted to let it go. But in the past, in another game same team, I had a couple incidents in a similar scenario when parents would snatch up the ball away from a players dribble and claiming it was out of bounds.

My question, if the parent refuses to leave and the game official proceeds to ask the coach to leave, and in this case there was oneč assistant left, if the parent persists so you now end up sending off the assistant coach, what is the expected sequence to end the match? Do you wait for the assistant coach to leave or do you simply inform him he is sent off therefore the game is over?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi George,

This is so depressing to hear about this at U/10!! This is exactly why some areas in the USA are starting to take very harsh action against parents.

Not being there, I have to ask you to reflect upon how you delivered your initial comment to the parent. An overly officious manner can result in a poor response (to be clear, nothing justifies the parent's appalling behaviour here).
The parent has interfered with play, then became belligerent and - barked? Really??

At this point, you need to clearly instruct the coach that if they don't remove the parent, the game won't continue. They got the message, but if the coach refuses to intervene then remind him that it's going to reflect very, very badly upon his team if the game gets abandoned.

And once you've made the decision to have somebody removed, you must follow through with it.

Stopping the ball clearly before it's out of play definitely necessitates a drop ball, no questions there.

In answer to your final question, if you've instructed the coach to ensure a parent leaves and this doesn't happen, then I'd offer the coach a deadline (eg 30 seconds) to ensure the parent is removed or the match is abandoned - and it's his team that's going to be in trouble for the abandonment. If the parent doesn't leave, then you simply abandon the game. You don't start sending off the coaching staff for the actions of a parent - rather, you report that they refused to control their spectators.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
For me, this harks back to a question (or a couple of questions, really) that we have had before about referees dealing with spectators. In the other question(s) we mentioned that the Laws of the Game do not give the referee any power or authority over spectators and although in some lower level and recreational games it might be possible to engage with spectators and have things go OK, this might not always be the case and that overall it might be better to leave it to the home team to handle matters relating to spectators and/or parents.

I think this example might tend to show the wisdom of that advice.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
Hindsight is 20/20 vision and I believe if you gave this more thought you might have handled this differently. Some thoughts to consider
1. First one is that when I read the account is to why would a referee send away a coach and or his assistant if he does nothing wrong. It does not read to me that the coach did anything to be removed. He may have known the demeanour of our belligerent parent and may not have wanted to engage with him. That is not a reason to sanction the coach by removing him. The sanction was that if the offender does not move when requested by the home club then the game is abandoned. The removal is the responsibility of the home club which can be the coach.
If the offender was the coach and he failed to leave at the request of the referee then the threat of abandonment is used.
2. At Under 10s I would be non too concerned about trifling situations. With no player near the ball there was only one outcome which is the ball out of play. Engaging persons outside the FOP is never a good idea and the referee has no powers in that regard. What was a minor incident turned into a potential abandonment. I would suggest that if there is an issue concerning off field matters then get the clubs to deal with it directly. Go to the home club and ask for the matter to be dealt with. As a good rule of thumb the referee should only engage with those listed on the roster and the technical staff.
3. If snatching the ball along the line is an issue then the circumstances need to be dealt with. That suggests that the spectators are standing on the line. First time it happens I would ask the home club to move everyone back 2/3 yards from the line. It is a situation that the referee might in the general direction of everyone say that they all need to move back. The referee could simply say Can we all move back please. No one individual is identified as it is addressed to everyone. Hopefully those that are respectful will encourage everyone to move back.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I wouldn't send the coach away for the behavior of a spectator. * It's the equivalent of sending off a player - with all the repercussions that come along with it. The coach would probably be banned for another game or games, and may need to pay a fine.

Instead, stop the game (and add on time to compensate) and let the coach know that the game will not continue until the parent leaves. If the parent does not leave within a reasonable time, the game will be over. Now that's an even more nuclear option than dismissing the coach - the league will probably look very unkindly on a game abandoned for behavior. But peer pressure will probably be enough so the game doesn't need to be abandoned. I only had to resort to that twice in 16 years of youth games.

In any event, be sure to document the whole incident in a comprehensive game report.

* - Some local rules may make the coach responsible for all sideline behavior, and provide for a dismissal if the coach refuses to deal with the fans.

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