Treatment of Referees in Youth Soccer
There are an alarmingly low number of referees in the soccer community. It is a problem that is not unique to this area but plagues the entire country. Youth soccer has grown exponentially over the past 15 years but the number of referees has not matched that growth. Why? There is no easy answer to this question but one of the most prevalent reasons is due to referee abuse from parents and coaches. The next time you are at a youth soccer match officiated by a referee, it is important to remember these golden rules:
1. If you’re not sure whether your behavior toward a referee is appropriate, try the following test: Imagine you are being recorded for sound and video and your actions will be televised in every household in America. If what you are doing passes that test, it might be acceptable!
2. If you have never been certified as a referee or have never refereed a match, you have no basis from which to criticize the official; and if you are a referee, you should know better! If you really want to display your knowledge of the Laws of the Game, identify all of the correct decisions being made by the referee and help us educate the rest of the folks on the sidelines. That should keep you busy for quite some time!
3. A referee is somebody’s child, father, mother, brother, or sister. Their parents do not come to the match to publicly criticize the way your child plays. Please return the favor!
4. The referee’s decision is final. You don’t have to like the decision, but you must respect it and move on. Imagine what the game would be like if the parents ripped the players apartevery time a bad decision was made…The fact is, the vast majority of young referees leaving the game do so because of the pressure of parent/coach abuse. Not surprisingly, the same is true for players.
5. Do not blame the outcome of a match on an official. Players make hundreds more mistakes than the official in every match. That is a fact!
6. There is no wisdom greater than kindness. Go out of your way to acknowledge the efforts of a referee with a smile and simple “thank you” or “good job.” It will make a world of difference.
7. It’s just a game.
We have a responsibility to help our referees grow and develop just like we have a responsibility to help our players. We would like to keep referees in the game and help them develop along the way. That is why we ask that everyone follow the guidelines above when attending games. Remember, our players get to practice their skills in the sport twice a week but our referees do not get any opportunity but the actual game to practice their craft. We do understand that for development to occur we have to know when things are not going quite the way we would like. As with everything, there is an appropriate way to communicate our concerns. In the vent that there are concerns about how an official is refereeing a game, please discuss your concerns with your team’s coach. The coach will discuss the concerns with the appropriate director and we will address the concerns and help our referees improve their game and stay in the game for a longer period of time.