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Question Number: 34738

Character, Attitude and Control 10/12/2022

RE: Semi-Professional Adult Adult

Gavin Pilato of Harrisburg, NC USA asks...

In addition to being a referee, I am also an onsite coordinator/mentor for recreational referees that my organization (Carolina Referee Organization) assigns.

Recently I was observing a new official on her first ever game. U9 rec boys, one referee system. She was doing well but was being berated by one of the coaches, who was taking the game hyper-seriously. After the match she told me that while I was observing some other referees at the soccer complex, that coach began blowing his own whistle for offside decisions and fouls that he wanted the referee to call, as well as verbally yelling at her.

I was very displeased to hear this and have filed a complaint about it, but how would you expect the referee to handle this situation? My judgement leads me to believe that this is public and provocative dissent, and the coach should be sent off. Do you agree with this perspective, and do you find support in the LOTG for this outcome?


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Gavin,
it is a tough situation for a youth referee to face off a bully coach! Support on and off the FOP should be a no brainer as abuse is the number one reason officials quit! You are aware that cards can be used? Yellow to caution against continued harassment and a red card to show a coach his walking papers if he refuses to stop or change the behavior.! However, that mentally afflicted coach needed a competent adult to whisper some sweet stop that crap in his ear! If I heard such stuff emanating from the mouth of a coach or such antics displayed on a FOP directed at a u 9 youth referee that coach would be aware of my support for that official as well as my general contempt for the behavior. If I had actual authority within the association that coach would be confronted immediately. Most likely asked to stop and change the behavior or else inform the authorities to escort the coach from the facilities!

She should be empowered to use the ASK (please stop) TELL (stop now or else) DISMISS (you were asked and told so bye bye!) portion of advice . Not to say that a direct good bye if needed could be not used, however, a quick ask intervention on the first gripe MIGHT prevent more of the same! Particularly if those all around on the pitch were of the same mind to ensure the codes of conduct are being maintained! I am disheartened when the failure of other adults not to reign in the loud obnoxious culls but then fear and unwillingness to get involved unless they are in behind an anonymous computer twitter is all too often in today's society.

It is IMPERATIVE, in my humble opinion, that all recreational soccer associations are on board with a code of conduct contract at the beginning of the season that outlines VERY VERY clearly the ramifications of idiotic behavior such as this coach was displaying towards that young referee. That coach should be held accountable explain what is or is nor permitted, possibly sanctioned and if not willing to alter their behavior, removed from the association.

It is understandable one might disagree with a call, I maintain that a match is seen differently by those watching, playing, managing or officiating because their needs and outcomes are far different based on personal knowledge, perspectives and opinions,. A brief synopsis
Spectators and see what they think they see
Players & Parents see what they feel
Coaches see what they want to see
Referees sees what they see!

100% unacceptable to direct ANY derogatory, abusive behavior, actions or words towards anyone, attending, playing, coaching or officiating a match. Only reasonable conduct, accountable behavior. One might quibble over what reasonable might be, however, ranting, raving and bullying a child is not in that category.

If those involved cannot grasp how a match is able to be managed controlled and completed in a reasonable manner! I suggest aside from a signed code of conduct contract by all who participate in the league (This includes parents, players, coaches, officials & committee personal!) A general comment card, accessible by EVERYONE made available throughout the league mailed or emailed or dropped in a special box to go with a referee match report assisting with mentoring, training and accountability.

Table discussions for a much less stressful time in post-game situations. Hold occasional open meetings where all participants are requested to attend! Be sure to congratulate the successes, celebrate the good stuff do not only the focus on bad conduct but to air grievances, point out issues, resolve confrontations in a meaningful 2way dialogue. Improve the standards of conduct effectively deal with errors, improve training allowing matches to proceed without confrontation when all parties can agree to disagree & move on for the benefit & safety of our youth.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gavin
It does not surprise me to read about a coach berating a young match official in a game as it happens all too often yet I am astounded that a coach would be using a whistle in a game. I am not sure what the opposing coaches were doing as they must have been intimidated by this coach if it was not dealt with at the time. A coach blowing a whistle in a game is unheard of and certainly the opponents would have something to say about that. If it happened in a game here the referee would have to deal with a major confrontations between coaches.

So the berating bit can be easily handled by a caution. It has never been easier for match officials to deal with bench dissent as all it requires now is a card to be shown at a stoppage in play. A second card and the offender is removed from the technical area.
The use of a whistle is also an easy caution and if there was any further dissent about that then the 2nd card is shown followed by a red card. It could be a straight red card as there is enough in that action under the current sending off guidelines for technical area staff. Personally I would deal with the first whistle and decide accordingly on the excuse or attitude of the coach. An apology based on a mistake of using a whistle in coaching might result in a caution. I'm suspecting here that this coach would not be that type

The game and most certainly the Underage game can do without these type of coaches. From what you describe this coach is unlikely to change his ways and my advice to clubs is to remove these type of individuals from coaching positions.
An Under 9 game is so easy to officiate as the players are just there for fun and the referee should have little to do other than the minor fouls, the falling downs, any small knocks, head contacts and timekeeping. I'm somewhat surprised that offside is in play at Under 9 . What makes it difficult for new young officials is the behaviour coming from the touchline.

Now one of the challenges for the game is that new young officials are put into these ULittles and minor games yet those game can pose difficulties for the official not from an onfield perspective but from the adults present. Dealing with this type of coach requires experience and a strong personality with good life skills. Those only come with experience. Once this coach meets a strong no nonsense official it will not end well for the coach. A strong official would be in straight away to deal with this and depending on the interaction it would certainly be a card either yellow or red.
Indeed from a Child Protection perspective underage requires a minimum number of adults present and at a minimum two so it brings into question the game continuing.

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