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Question Number: 32187

Law 5 - The Referee 1/22/2018

RE: Intermediate Under 14

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32185

While I don't live in Kentucky, I am a retired prosecutor & can say unequivocally that a citizen cannot 'charge' anyone with a criminal action. And only on TV can a citizen decide to 'press' or 'not press' criminal charges.

e.g. AYSO gives a referee the right to eject any spectator from an event. If the person refuses, then an AYSO board member will be called to tell the person to leave. If they don't, the police can be called to eject the person. That person can be arrested. This is NOT the same as charging someone.

In fact, to make the point with an extreme example, if a police officer, on duty, saw a spectator shoot someone, the police officer CANNOT charge the person with a crime. They can arrest that person & that information will be presented to a governmental charging authority (like a City Attorney or District Attorney). Only they can file criminal charges. A citizen can only bring a civil action (sue).

Additionally, a private citizen, even if labelled a 'victim', is really a witness that can be called to testify. They technically have no right to 'press' or 'not press' charges...although their willingness to cooperate is taken into consideration. (Some states have passed laws preventing a charging authority from forcing a minor to testify in child molest cases.)

Bottom line is that, while it may or may not be a misdemeanor to refuse to leave a soccer game in Kentucky when asked to leave by a referee, the referee can NEVER charge the person.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
I don't believe the questioner was asking in a legal or civil sense yet rather in a game context of the powers of referees to remove a spectator. As it was pointed out it is not in the referees powers to remove anyone from a ground. That is reserved to the owner of the ground. In this part of the world persons appointed by the ground owner have the power to ask a person to leave and to escort a spectator from the facility using 'reasonable' force. If they refuse to leave when asked, they can be advised that they are trespassing and the police is called. At larger events it is likely that a police officer would be present to deal with these issues as they arise.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Phil,
A referee can request a problem be fixed or choose not to continue the match.
If the referee was attacked he would have a right to defend himself but other than allow the ROC or tournament directors to remove problem spectators by whatever resources they have, security, local police etc.. I do not recommend approaching spectators directly although I have done so with effect. It could escalate into something very ugly if your character and sense of propriety was off base!

Problems that are created by referee performance are compounded by a dissenting or abusive personal watching who refuse to accept quietly their team is being unfairly targeted or safety concerns ignored as a PERCEPTION of the truth ! The ability to agree to disagree , hold the tongue and record and report your concerns rather than shout and try to fight it out publically on the field is not one easy to master. Opinions and the very real concerns as much as misinformation and false knowledge by unstable individuals who just can not support and be positive instead of negative & disruptive .

I am aware of codes of conduct signed by parents , players and in some communities the referee can in fact request an individual leave the park area as they are honourer bound to do so or they are not permitted on the privately owned park grounds during further matches but the local police are informed to escort an overly aggressive refusal. A meeting is held to determine the outcome and conditions surrounding the incident.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Phil,
While I cannot claim any kind of legal expertise, what you say pretty much corresponds with my limited understanding of how the law would normally work. The referee would be at most, a witness (albeit probably the most important one) at any legal proceedings that might ensue, based on the charges that could potentially be instituted by the relevant authorities.

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