Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 35152

Character, Attitude and Control 10/11/2023

RE: Middle School Under 14

Brian Ellis of kinderhook , ny USA asks...

I'm was watching my daughter's soccer game today as a spectator and close to the sidelines where we we watching a player was tripped and the ball rolled out of bounds. The referee stated 'I didn't see who it went off of, who touched it last?'. I commented from the sideline in a calm voice "it was a trip." He he fired back, "I'm talking to the players not the parents'
At that point I said "it's still a trip" in a normal calm speaking voice once again.
At that point half time expired , he went to the scorer's table and I was ejected from the property. In 5 years of coaching I've never had even a warning for arguing a call. Prior to this incident no one was giving the referee any trouble. Am I in the wrong here? Or should the referee show some degree of self restraint? Missed my daughter's first goal at the Modified level because of this. Sad and confused.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Brian,
perception, the ability for people to look at same something and yet come up with different reasoning?
It does not matter, on the world stage or a kids game on a sunny afternoon.
Something occurs, actions taken, comments made and consquences follow. League policy and bylaws sound strict given your removal was attended to quite swiftly. You might request some clarification from their ruling body.

For a referee to comment out loud requesting assistance instead of winging it with a best guess speaks to me as a match played with little ferocity. In good faith was hoping for, off of white or blue, but got you instead!
I will assume no AR, just a person in the middle, trying to allow a match to finish, hopefully, in the best interest of the kids playing .

His comment was for a ball out of play, whether he discounted any contact as a trip, or failed to recognize it or simply did not see it, matters little, he is looking to restart for a ball out of play -NOT- a trip.

Now we have no previous knowledge of other matches, other actions , other comments made, other circumstances that could affect a referees' inability to just shrug off a one off comment of dissent. Your claim of all is well may not be his. Perceptions aside!

The fact he took exception to your comment and made it a bigger deal to which promoted a further one more, get this in there comment by you, further annoyed him to have you removed is indeed SAD!

Right or wrong, he felt you essentially disrespected him in front of the kids. Perhaps in his eyes you as good as said, "Hey idiot it's a free kick not a throw in." Just framed in less words, using a dissenting opinion of an event to make a point? Kids pay a LOT of attention to how adults treat other adults especially after receiving stern lectures of fair play and sportsmanship. We provide the role models and far too often we fail in those regards . Not all of us, not all the time & not on purpose but kids perception of "Hmm they say this, do that," is generally very astute! Even your body language and icy stares say a much as verbal intonation and clipped quips delivered with unerring gotcha attitudes.

Even if you meant it in good faith and were surprised at the tone of the response, poking the bear is a tricky business. Look at the price you paid, missing out on your daughters goal? I have refereed a lot of matches over the tears/years and often kids harshest critics are their parents. Surprisingly some kids play better when they were not there or remained silent. Less stressful perhaps.

Finger pointing who is at fault is a daunting task with little rewards.
A referee should indeed be able to disregard spectator comments of a benign nature.
Just as youth game spectators could grasp they are on display watching kids playing a game.
If you coached for 5 years and never received any warnings from a referee for dissent count yourself fortunate. Other than a heart to heart talk with the referee in question to perhaps find resolution there are no winners in this situation, just as you say, some confused sadness.


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brian
On another day and a different referee the incident may have been ignored or made light off. A comment such as “Thinking of taking up the whistle” or “ I used to be indecisive now I’m not so sure any more” might diffuse the situation or perhaps just ignoring it all together.

Anyway the referee took exception to the close quarters comments and he was obviously unwilling to accept any criticism or verbals. The scorer’s table clearly had zero tolerance to verbals hence the decision to request that you leave.
Personally I think it was harsh as from what you describe I believe a warning to be quiet would have sufficed.

So it is in the eye of the beholder and the lesson is that everyone is different and that the response is going to be different.
A few seasons ago a coach spoke out of turn to my assistant on a throw in call. I knew the AR got the call right as I saw the deflection and heard the clip of the ball. Anyway the AR was incensed with what was said and he requested that the coach be removed which was done. At the end of the game as we walked off I saw the coach coming towards us and my first reaction was “ oh oh not good” yet he came to apologise and to shake hands. The apology was accepted and I told him that getting dismissed for a throw in direction at half way made no sense. On another day an AR may have decided to blank it or perhaps a caution would be appropriate.

Maybe he learned a lesson that makes him think twice before getting involved with match officials.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


You indicated this was a middle school game. Most likely Middle School games in New York are played under NFHS rules as they are in Alabama. Games played under NFHS rules are to have a game administrator and problems with spectators that occur are to be made known to the game administrator who will then take the appropriate action.

Please also note that the NFHS is emphasizing sportsmanship especially on the part of spectators. Spectator disagreement with calls made by the referees is especially frowned upon.

I expect that the referee reported your disagreement to the game administrator who then took the step to eject you from the contest. I also expect this was done to show other parents and spectators that verbally challenging the referees call or no call as you did would not be tolerated.

I do agree this was a harsh penalty but please be aware that sportsmanship of players, coaches and spectators is currently a high priority for schools. One reason for this priority is the shortage of referees which many believe is the result of criticism given by the coaches and spectators.

I do believe your situation could have been handled differently. I recently refereed a high school playoff game where a spectator was verbally abusing the assistant referee. This abuse was reported to the game administrator who went into the stands, sat with, and talked to the abuser.  The other spectators were aware this was happening. After 10 minutes the administrator returned to his area and all abuse and disagreements from spectators ceased for the remainder of the game.

Hopefully, you will get the opportunity to see your daughter score in future games.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe Manjone

View Referee Joe Manjone profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35152
Read other Q & A regarding Character, Attitude and Control

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>