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Question Number: 31736

High School 8/26/2017

RE: Level 8 High School

John Brown of Glen Mills, PA USA asks...

As a center ref if a parent or coach commits an action(such as yelling obscene language) that warrants being thrown out of the game and is thrown out of the game but refuses to leave what should be done? Is the game declared a forfeit and given to the other team? Should the game be continued?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The coach of the team should be told that unless the belligerent parent leaves, the game will not continue. And if the coach fails to act or cannot get the parent to leave, the game is abandoned.

Under the Laws of the Game, absent any league rules covering abandoned games, the game will be replayed. But I suspect that a league would have provisions to award a forfeit win to the other team. They might also ban the parent, suspend the coach for failure to control the sidelines, levy fines, ban the team, decline to register the team in the future ... the possibilities are numerous depending on how bad a problem this is, and if it has become a repeated problem. In High School games, the state athletic association would be the deciding body. The school administration should also get involved in disciplining the coach, team and/or parent.

Note that the referee does not determine the outcome of the match. The ref must write a comprehensive game report (including the specific words said) so the league will have something concrete to act upon.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
Referee Manjone has outlined the NFHS position.
In other games such as USSF / FIFA If the referee requires a spectator or coach to be removed and the offender refuses to obey then the game is terminated and the fact reported to the appropriate authority. It is likely that the offending team will forfeit the game for that action. The forfeit for that action is not a decision for the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI John ,
if there is sufficient reason for a referee to abandon the match due to outside interference there will be HUGE consequences for the league or team or those involved once the disciplinary committee gets through investigating the referee report which must be detailed, accurate and clearly make the case for abandonment. Those involved could be banned from attending matches or fields, we are talking everything from criminal proceeding, lifetime bans, forfeits, shorter bans, fines etc.. Whether there is security or field officials or league representatives or even the accompanying conduct of those not involved all things will be investigated to determine punishments and solutions to any ongoing problem.
I recall a league having to use legal action to ban certain adults from attending youth matches , releasing the coach of one team for failing to assist the referee in calming the situation and making the attending parents sign codes of conduct otherwise they were not permitted to watch their kids play .


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi John,
When it comes to a coach refusing to leave, the NFHS rules are quite unambiguous on how this should be handled, stating that:

''A coach who is disqualified shall leave the vicinity of the playing area immediately and is
prohibited from any contact, direct or indirect, with the team during the remainder of the game. Failure to comply shall result in termination of the game.''

I cannot find a similarly clear provision for misbehaviour by a parent and a subsequent refusal to leave but in my opinion it should be treated the same way and the game terminated, especially when there is a play ruling for a similar but not identical situation that says that if the spectators will not remain the correct distance away from the touchline:

''The referee instructs the home-team management to tell the spectators to remain 10
feet behind the touchline, goal line and/or team/official area, or the game may be terminated.''

As ref Manjone says, this would only be if all efforts to get the parent to leave have failed.

As my colleagues have stated, it is not the prerogative of the referee to declare the game forfeited but if the termination is shown to be definitely the fault of one team's coach and/or spectators then that could very well end up being the final outcome after the relevant authorities have reviewed the evidence. Furthermore as mentioned, additional sanctions against the coach, parents and/or team would probably apply

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


In high school soccer, the removal of a coach and parent are handled differently.

First of all, if a parent is causing the problem that you indicate, you are to ask the game manager to intercede and remove the parent.

Every high school game is to have a game manager who is in charge of crowd control and security. The game manager is usually the athletic director, principal or a designated school official. You should introduce yourself to the game manager before every game you work, and find out how to best contact him/her if there is a need.

The game manager is usually very effective in removing parents, but sometimes must seek the aid of other school personnel or the police. However, if the game manager is having difficulty with the removal and the problem continues, you may suspend the game until the removal is successful. I would not recommend terminating the game unless it is evident that the problem cannot be solved or there is a danger to the officiating crew or the players.

The incident and report to the game manager should be included in your game report.

If a coach will not leave the vicinity of the playing area, the game should be terminated.

A terminated game should be reported to the PIAA Office as soon as possible. The PIAA will then rule on the outcome of the game. This ruling most likely will include a forfeit of the game and action against the coach.

Please note that you are only to forfeit a game if a team has less than seven players to continue (NFHS Rule 3-1-2).

I refereed for 14 years in Pennsylvania but never had to disqualify a soccer coach, but those were back in the days (59-73) when soccer officials had much respect because very few people understood soccer.

I hope that you do not encounter many instances where it is necessary to disqualify a coach. I also hope you have a great season and get to work the finals in Hershey.

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