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Question Number: 6866

Law 5 - The Referee 11/15/2003

RE: Rec Under 10

Doug of El Cajon, CA USA asks...

First off, great site Refs! This is my first year as a Ref (parent volunteer), and as my daughter's season is running to it's end, I can see why not many of us continue to certification. Today was a complete joke, and I will take responsibility for having the game get out of hand, since I was the Ref and it's my job to keep that from happening. Within the first minute of the game, a player of the defending team performed what in my opinion and from my viewpoint a fair and legal challenge for the ball. The player attacking player lost the ball and yelled to her asst. coach (also her father) that she had been pushed. Her asst. coach, in a very unacceptable way yelled back 'Well, push her back!'. I immediately went to the touchline and told him that was unacceptable behaviour and since our division doesn't use cards (I don't know if that has to do with the refs not being certified or not) I couldn't card him. I did say that if it happened again it he would be asked to leave (I guess you could say it was a verbal YC). From that point on though, ANY contact made by the other team was considered to be pushing and the parents were becoming more and more upset with my calls. When contact was deemed to be unsafe, or reckless, (pushing, holding or contact with elbows lifted) the whistle was blown, and a free kick allowed...The truly ironic thing about this is that it was my daughter's team that wasn't agreeing with my calls regarding the contact. The only thing that I know about soccer is that I don't know everything. I felt that the calls I made were fair, and with the safety of the girls in mind. But in the end it felt like I had lost some of the control of the game due to these bitter feelings...I asked a couple of coaches, and division reps that were present at the game if the calls I made were incorrect, or if I wasn't seeing the fouls that everyone was upset over, and to a person they all said that the calls were fair and in their opinions no fouls had been committed. ..The part that I really dread is that once my team's parents felt that it was an unfair game they made it a very unpleasant event for all involved, especially the girls. ..I am hoping to get your opinions on this. I know you didn't see it, and try not to judge the ref, but since it was me, and I'm asking, maybe you can change your mind! LOL..1) Even though our division doesn't use cards, should I have asked the coach that told his daughter to push her opponent back to leave? (At our quarter substitution break, he did ernestly apologize to me, and asked me to relay that to the other coach since I wouldn't let him on the field to do so himself)..2) Where is the fine-line between shoulder-to-shoulder contact and pushing?..3) If one team has been taught, and is playing, a more physical game than their opponents, but within the laws and rules, should they be penalized, because the other team hasn't been taught that way?..4) For future reference, and in seeing how NOT calling that contact a penalty turned out, should I have called it one and awarded a kick? This seems to me to be unfair, since it wasn't warranted, but would go a long way to establishing how the game would flow...Thank you in advance for any thoughts you may have on this. Writing this all down, and going over the events have been good therapy!!!

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer 11/16/2003

Thanks for your concern Doug and your trust in us to give guidance. From reading your description I think I know why you noticed the match got out of hand - the coaches and parents were the referee. You responded to a coach's inappropriate suggestion and did not dismiss him for bringing the Game into disrepute, the ranting of the parents swayed your decisions and, lastly, you were not a trained referee. In most places we like to certify our referees before we send them out on the field, not the next season. On the job training is good for some things but this one requires a substantial base of knowledge before starting out. It's amazing how much referees don't know, but this is only realized when exposed to training. ..Get certified and perhaps this will not happen too often!..1. The coach must be dismissed for this remark, to fail in this gives permission for all his players to misbehave for the rest of their lives...2. Charging never becomes pushing as they are separate and distinct things. A charge may be careless, reckless or use excessive force; all of which result in a direct free kick and other levels of discipline...3. In this Game the use of physical force is acceptable only in the play for the ball, not to get in a position to play the ball. Players must not touch each other unless the ball is present and then only shoulder to shoulder. If contact is made with the opponent before contact is made with the ball, unless shoulder to shoulder it is foul play. Players have different degrees of acceptance for foul play and the referee must realize this, he also needs to know when a player's level of tolerance is exceeded. ..4. Foul recognition is a most difficult thing and all of us have different opinions of what is a foul and that differs in each match we see. Education is the key here, sounds like you are interested enough to ask for help, the help is: GET CERTIFIED at your earliest opportunity then do the most challenging matches you can. Your learning curve will be steep but the rewards are worth it. ..Regards,

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino 11/16/2003

I echo Ref Fleischer's comment about you getting certified. You obviously care about the kid's safety and we need more adults like you to get involved. Also, thanks for the kind words. Your questions.1. It's your call. I know many referees that would allow this and they rarely have good game control. BTW cards are not given to coaches, only players. 2. charging and pushing are separate entities. A shoulder to shoulder movement is only the beginning of a fair charge. It may not be performed carelessly,recklessly, or with undue force. It's a judgement call and you'll have to gain more experience to make it. 3. If the team is playing within the Laws, it would be unfair of you to penalize them. 4. Again, it's your call. If you felt like there was no foul, then there wasn't. I'll say this, at the U10 rec level you should call things very tightly as the kids can get out of hand quickly. Please write us with future questions

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Sebalja 11/17/2003

I was watching TV a couple nights ago, and they had the situation of the coach been yelled at by parents for everything possible. For some reason people seem to be keen to give advice but not walk the walk. At the end of the day you just have to know that you are out there doing it for the kids and just block out the blah blah blah. Keep on reffing.

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