Many coaches seek an advantage for their team by trying to get "into the referee’s head." Sometimes it is a subtle clue, such as wearing referee socks or shorts to coach a game. Sometimes it’s more obvious apparel. And perhaps worst of all, often the coach will inform the referee, particularly a young referee, that they also referee.
After years of watching this behavior, we have determined that this is not done to put the coach’s team at a disadvantage. In fact, we conclude that just the opposite is true. The coach is trying to game the referee. This is a blatant disregard for the Spirit of the Game and, in our opinion, is a violation of the Referee’s Code of Ethics.
We asked State Referee Administrator, Scott Meyer, what we can tell our coaches. Here is his response:
Tell the coaches that if they want to inform the referees before hand that they are also a referee, that is fine BUT, the referee will then expect a higher level of behavior from the coach. Since the coach (referee) understands the proper behavior from a coach, the referee will expect it. Since the coach (referee) knows that all calls on the field are "in the opinion of the referee", the referee will not tolerate challenges from the coach. Further, since the coach (referee) knows the problems we have with retention of our younger referees, the referee will expect the coach to be positive and encouraging of the younger referees and not to do anything that would discourage the young referees.
Then I would instruct the referees that if any coach tells the referee that he or she is a referee, that the referee say something very polite like, "Thanks for telling me. I will expect that you will set a positive example of coach behavior. And I am glad to know that I won’t have to worry about you do anything to discourage our new young referees."
IF YOU COACH, COACH, BUT DON’T TELL THE REFEREES HOW TO DO THEIR JOB!
I have a question for you that has happened to me for a couple of games now. A coach/referee grade 8 has at half time has gone over to assistant referee’s refing a game with me speaking to them and instructing them in how to make calls and when to. What can or should I do when this happens? I know the man is a good referee but I find this set of actions very unprofessional.
USSF answer (April 26, 2005):
This is gamesmanship of the worst sort. Firmly and politely remind such coaches that today they are coaches, not referees, and that their behavior is irresponsible. If such behavior continues, they will be expelled.
ARE YOU A COACH OR REFEREE?
As a person that both referees and coaches soccer, I am wondering how I should handle a situation when I am on the sideline as a coach when the referee is in error regarding the restart after making a call. For example: last year during a tournament, a young referee properly called a goal kick for my team. The player about to kick the ball then, although not intentionally, did in fact delay the restart and was properly cautioned. Although the restart still should have been a goal kick, in error he called an indirect kick from the six yard line and then would not let my players set up a wall on the goal line, thus, in effect, giving the other team a penalty kick from the six yard line. What should I have done at that moment? Should I have gained the attention of the AR and pleaded my case with him? Should I have pleaded with the referee and brought out my law book to plead my case? Should I have yelled out onto the field to the referee that the restart was improper and risked being ejected? More basically, what latitude should a coach have in arguing a restart?
USSF answer (April 20, 1998):
Your knowledge was superior to that of the referee on the field, but there is little you can do about it in most cases. If there is any possible nonconfrontational way of communicating with the referee, do it. Unfortunately, in the heat of a game there are few opportunities for such communication between coach and referee. What is even more unfortunate is that the referee’s error could provide the team which was hurt by it with a legitimate excuse for lodging a protest. The referee’s judgment on points of fact connected with the game may not be criticized or appealed, but an erroneous restart for a simple case like this is a ground for protest, particularly as it could represent a game-deciding moment. The coach’s latitude is small. Under the Laws of the Game s/he is allowed only to act in a responsible manner in the coaching area. That is normally interpreted to mean that s/he can give positive encouragement and coaching tips to the players. Anything else can be regarded as irresponsible and could provide the referee with grounds for dismissing the coach from the area of the field of play. The best means of communicating referee error is to have a word with the competition authority or to file a report. Obviously that does not provide help on the day of the event, but it could be helpful for the referee in future games in the competition.
Source: Jim Allen’s Ask a Referee web site