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Question Number: 32306

Other 3/14/2018

RE: Sunday Youth Under 17

Rob of Leicester , UK asks...

During a recent youth game, a player was given a yellow card for persistent fouls. When the ref tried to take his name he was enraged, was verbally abusive & kept turning his back on the match official. Eventually he reluctantly spoke to the ref, but there was then some confusion over the correct spelling of his surname (which I believe was Polish). Apparently the referee made an innocent quip about about his name, in an obvious effort to diffuse things. Thinking the ref was taking the pee, the player went mad & was once again verbally abusive to the match official. After a prolonged second outburst from the player, he was eventually shown a second yellow card & then a subsequent red card. While leaving the field he called the ref a f*cking joke & a f*cking w@nker amongst other expletives.

At this point the player implied that the referee had been racist & called for the intervention of his manager. His manager, who had not heard what the match official had said, threatened to withdraw his players & report the ref if he did not allow the player to return to the field of play.

After a seemingly endless slanging match between the manager & referee, the player was then allowed to continue the game. This decision was an obvious shock to the opposition players/parents, who had never witnessed anything like it before. With scores level at 1-1 & the opponents being reduced to 10 men, they clearly fancied their chances of taking all 3 points.

Not only did the match official allow the player back onto the pitch, he was clearly so intimidated by the threat of being reported by the teams manager, that he blatantly ensured they went on to win the game. He awarded two mysterious & extremely controversial penalties, in a blatantly unfair attempt to dig himself out of a potentially serious accusation being made against him.

After complaining to Leics FA about the incident, they have unsurprisingly stood firmly behind the match official & claim his decision to allow the player back onto the field was correct. Meantime, they have decided to take no action whatsoever against either the player or manager & not to review the award of points or potentially replay the fixture.

Your thoughts on the above would be appreciated.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rob
What is alleged here is very unsatisfactory and no doubt shows the vagaries of refereeing with language challenges. In our leagues we have team sheets and numbers that are used so the need to take names with communication challenges is not required. No conversation is necessary as we just show the card and take the number.
What this shows is that quips, comments can be used against match officials and that referees should be extremely careful in getting involved in conversations that can be construed as unprofessional, racist or whatever.
Now no doubt the referees report to Leics FA supported the position that no compliant could be substantiated. No referee is ever going to report that he gave controversial penalties or that he was wrong in his decision making particularly when there is no independent witness or opinion. The referee could cite language difficulties as the reason for his decision in allowing the return of a dismissed player which as alleged is patently wrong.. It would be interesting to read what his explanation for overturning the red card was for the player.
So little if anything can be done here. As alleged the referee has let himself down and the game. It shows that match officials have to extremely careful of dealing with players and unfortunately the manager of the team has abused the alleged circumstances to benefit his team.
In hindsight had the opponents walked off under protest that a justified red card was rescinded it would have been more difficult for the referee to explain his actions / decision. Nothing can be done on penalty awards in games and I suppose the decision can be appealed to a higher authority yet I doubt that is viable given that the first decision supported what was reported.
I do not like what I have read here and iI should not be happening in a game. Allegedly using an accusation of a racist position to gain benefit and allow a player to use offensive, abusive and insulting language without sanction is patently wrong. The referee has allowed a player and a team to get away with a blatant abuse of the Laws. The loser here really is the game and the referee for allowing himself to be abused and threatened which is not acceptable. His alleged handling of the incident plus the haranguing between the referee and manager suggest unprofessionalism. Perhaps an appeal to a higher body while futile might be worthwhile to highlight such as alleged abuse took place. It will be unlikely to effect the result of the game yet it might highlight to other officials such abuses which need to be stamped out of the game.
Winning at all costs is a bane on the modern game. Shame on any player or manager that allows the game to descend to such alleged depths. I suspect this will happen again if not dealt with.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Rob,
certainly a ridiculously unpleasant situation to be involved in or witnessed. IF the referee felt threatened or was concerned he crossed a line and cowered to remove possible repercussions is a sad commentary. I suspect he wished the match not to be abandoned and possibly felt he was responsible for creating the mess by mishandling the issues? It is true each referee has their own character and way of doing things but when engaging in direct conversation with those under their care one can get into trouble as in being too sarcastic too lenient or too abusive without really meaning to. Personally I think the referee has let the fear of doing the wrong thing to override what was right. Based on your observations: speaking as a referee, parent, player, spectator and reasonable person, the kid is not getting back on to play! Nor would the coaches ranting's be acceptable.
As to why the referee did what he did, as to what he incorporated into his match report, we have zero idea? Certainly we feel badly on general principle but those who run the league or association make whatever ruling's based on the information they have been given.
As a coach of the team that lost chances are I would have filed a grievance or protest immediately. Such things cost a bit and are time sensitive but there would be a board meeting to discuss the situation in detail . I see you say they complained? Losing teams always complain so complaints are kind of the norm. PROTESTS that a justified red card was rescinded and money paid to investigate fair play is taking things to another level.
You state, the league said his decision to allow the player back onto the field was correct? What was the reason given???
All referees l have tough matches that tax us and I am willing to bet that referee is looking back at that match with little appreciation and a sense of should I be doing this? Also these are reasons to be evaluated, mentored and monitored for future matches.

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