Cheating Referees


I doubt the following dialogue has ever happened. But if you hear the comments of many young players at the end of games which they have lost, they would tell you that it was possible. After all, it was the cheating referees who contributed to or resulted in the loss.

The dialogue protagonists:

  • Referee (Ref).
  • Assistant Referee 1 (AR1).
  • Assistant Referee 2 (AR2).

The referee meets the two ARs behind the goal.

Ref: Welcome gentlemen. I’m looking forward to refereeing with you guys again.

AR1: Same here. Which team is it going to be this time?

Ref: Well, see that player over there (referee points to #9 on the green team). He looked at me funny the last time I refereed his game.

AR2: I know his coach. I don’t like the coach’s daughter.

AR1: That’s Lisa’s Dad? Yeah, I don’t like her either. She won’t go out with me. She said I lacked character.

Ref: What does she know? Well then, it sounds like we have our team. You guys know the procedure.

AR2: Yes, I will ignore all offside calls for the other team. However, anything close to an offside against the green team, I will raise my flag.

AR1: Same here. I will also make favorable throw-in, corner, and goal kick calls every chance I get for the other team.

Ref: Perfect! Don’t worry about helping me with the fouls. As usual, I will make every possible call against the green that I can. Then if I hear one word from either a player or coach, you can bet I will pull out my yellow card. If I get a chance, I’ll see if I can pull out a few red cards as well.

AR1 and AR2 (in unison): Sounds like a plan.

Ref: Let’s go out and have a good game, fellows!

Sure referees make bad calls. And some referees make more bad calls than others. And as a player and coach, this can be really frustrating. When I was young, I was terrible to referees when a call did not go my way. I’m sure many of them wanted to pull a Homer Simpson and wring my neck. But mistakes are part of the game and part of being human.

Do referees cheat? This would imply that referees deliberately make bad calls. It would also imply that the above dialogue was indeed plausible. The answer is highly unlikely. As a coach, it is important to let your players know that their accusations and beliefs are incorrect, no matter how frustrated or upset you may be. After all, it is just a game.

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3 Responses to “Cheating Referees”

  1. Matt Johnston Says:

    As a referee, I make sure I don’t conduct any conversation like that one above at all and certainly not within the hearing of a player.

    However, as a referee for youth games, there are two words that will get you you a yellow card and possible even sent off, dropping the f-bomb loud enough for it to be heard and calling me or the Assistant Referees a cheat.

    I have been refereeing in my area for a couple of years now and I am getting to know the coaches and certainly the high school coaches. I have no stake in any games as I don’t have kids in high school. When my girls get to that age, even if they are not playing for the school, I will simply not do games involving their school. I don’t want to be put in the position of being called a “homer” and I don’t want to put my assignor in that position either.

    However, you do make a good point that needs to be reinterated. Referees are human and we make mistakes. We don’t intend to make mistakes, and I for one work very hard to make sure I don’t make mistakes. But it happens and players, coaches and parents need to understand that mistakes will happen. They are not perfect either and to expect the referees to be perfect is an unreasonable expectation.

  2. Campeon Says:

    This post was great. I just had one the other day where one coach accused my official of favortism and costing them the game. 30 minutes later the other winning coach accused him of the same but towards the losing team! Just another day.

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