Prince William SRA


Dealing with Angry Adults
At no time is a referee tested more than in dealing with angry coaches or parents. The following advice is given to all referees but especially to youth referees.


In choosing a pre-game location for your equipment, chose a location at the far end of the field. It is a little farther to walk but the extra preparation may protect you from angry adults who happen to walk by after a match and initiate a confrontation. By choosing a distant location referees will instantly recognize when someone is coming for a confrontation.

If refereeing 12U or above you will likely be part of a three-person referee team. You are required to enter and exit the field together. This is important at all times, especially during a match which you feel was especially contentious. If one referee has a match immediately following and the other two referees are done for the day, the other two do not exit the field and leave the one referee by him/herself. When you exit the field together you return, as a group, to your belongings. There you will have a brief post-game conference to talk about the match and can make the determination of whether or not it is safe to leav


When dealing with injuries, the referee must make the initial determination of whether or not the player will need assistance from the sidelines. If the referee determines to call the coach onto the field, the referee should move away from the injured player and move to an opposite corner, preferably near an assistant referee, but definitely out of the path the coach will travel to the player. An injured player is an emotional time for a coach and if a referee is in the coach's path he may take the opportunity to vent rather than focus on his injured player.


If, during or after the match, someone approaches you for your name, you are NEVER to give it out. You can be polite and firm but the only thing you are to say is "We are not to give out our names." At the same time, you are required to file a post-game report identifying, to the best of your ability, the adult or adults who approached you.


Referees have no right to expel spectators. Instead, referees have the right to stop, suspend, and terminate a match. If during a match a spectator is interfering with play or players or referees wait until a stoppage in play and then take an AR (if part of a three-man crew) with you and approach both coaches. Call them both together at midifeld and calmly say "Coach, there is a spectator who is interfering with me, my referee team, and the players. We are going to suspend this match and it will not resume as long as the spectator remains." At no point should you say the spectator has to leave. Then leave it to coaches to take care of the problem. DO NOT DEBATE. DO NOT STAY FOR AN ARGUMENT OR DISCUSSION. AND NEVER ENGAGE WITH THE SPECTATOR. Leave immediately, picking up your second AR and move to your area. If after 2-3 minutes the spectator still remains, go to the coaches and announce that the match is terminated. If you need to blow the whistle, do so, but terminate the match. After the match contact the Assignor immediately and file a full report.


If during a match a coach fails to conduct himself in a responsible manner, wait until a stoppage in play and then take an AR (if part of a three-man crew) with you and approach the COACH.* It is suggested yo use the Ask, Tell Dismiss approach. For the first instance calmly say "Coach, your behavior is not responsible and I am going to ask you to stop. (ASK) The second time say "Coach, your behavior is not responsible and it must stop. If it fails to improve I will have to terminate the match." (TELL) If it happens a third time then dismiss the coach. By FIFA Law we do not show cards to coaches but most youth leagues permit it and some may require it. Know the local rules.
Note that if the behavior is egregious the first time the coach can be dismissed. Ask, Tell, Dismiss is a suggested approach. If you dismiss a coach inform the team that another adult will need to coach the team. If coach refuses to leave within two to three minutes or does not have another adult available, terminate the match. DO NOT DEBATE. DO NOT STAY FOR AN ARGUEMENT OR DISCUSSION. Leave immediately, picking up your second AR and move to your "safe" area. After the match contact the Assignor immediately and file a full report. Note: These are two separate actions.

*If you feel you need more help, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE THE ONLY REFEREE, before you approach the angry coach, get help from another adult. If you see an adult ref on the next field get that referee to come over and help you. At the same time you can also approach the opposing coach and ask him to come with you to approach the angry coach.


When you are working as a referee if you find yourself in a very difficult situation, seek help from an adult. We try to have an adult ref at our complexes but sometimes we cannot. If there is an adult referee on the complex, approach that referee and tell him that you need his help. (If no adult is available seek help from the opposing coach.)

If you are working at a complex and a young referee from another field approaches you seeking your help, stop your match immediately and render assistance. It is only a GAME -- not the World Cup. You can stop and help our young referee.


Updated: February 17, 2017

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