Posts Tagged ‘referee’

Don’t Retaliate

April 28, 2010

A funny incident happened to my daughter this year during her high school season that illustrates retaliation perfectly. My daughter entered a game early in the second half and before her teammate had a chance to restart the game with a throw-in, my daughter:

  • Received a yellow card,
  • Was almost shown a red card, and
  • Found herself back on the bench.

The incident unfolded as follows:

  1. As she entered the game and positioned herself for the throw-in, an opponent pinched her on her hip.
  2. Not one to take kindly to this sort of action, my daughter reciprocated with an elbow to the pincher’s mid-section.
  3. Seeing only the elbow, the referee showed my daughter a yellow card and pointed to the bench (in our high school league, all yellow card recipients require to be substituted).
  4. As she neared the bench, her coach asked her why she did what she did. She answered by showing him the pinch mark and made sure that everyone in the stands knew that she had been pinched.
  5. Upon seeing the mark, the coach had her return to the field to show the referee the evidence.
  6. As she neared him, the referee asked, “If she would like a red card as well?”
  7. Without responding, my daughter returned to the bench to accept her punishment. Fortunately, she went back in after the next dead ball. There were no further retributions or flare-ups.

I feel the referee was perfectly justified in giving my daughter the yellow card because a referee can only call and punish actions or infractions that he/she sees. Even though he probably guessed something had happened to my daughter to cause her to react like she did, he should not have shown the other girl a yellow card since he did not see the pinch occur. All he could do was keep a closer eye on the pincher and be quick to call a foul if he witnessed anything.

I gave my daughter the following advice should she be involved in another similar incident in the future:

  • Raise your voice to get the referee’s attention. Something like, “Ouch! You can’t pinch me like that!” would have done the trick.
  • Display the evidence to the player and make sure the referee sees it as well. If possible, go to the referee and show him/her the evidence up close.
  • Be polite when showing the referee any evidence. If he/she does not want to see it, that’s fine. The purpose, which was to let the referee know that a particular player caused you pain, was achieved.
  • Don’t retaliate. Opponents, especially older ones, play mind games. Their intention is to get the opponent off his/her game. This type of gamesmanship is part of soccer as well as most other sports. It is something that players need to understand and expect.

Retaliation is never the answer. While it is not fair, the referee will always see the retaliator’s reaction and not the perpetrator’s action. React and you will almost certainly be carded and possibly end up back on the bench without ever playing a minute of a game.

Advertisements

Reputations: Easy to Gain, Difficult to Change

April 18, 2010

“Well, your mother told you all that I could give you was a reputation.
Aww, she never cared for me,
But did she ever say a prayer for me?

— Billy Joel, “Only the Good Die Young”

If Virginia’s mom (Virginia is the main protagonist in Billy Joel’s song) was talking about Virginia’s soccer reputation, she would have been wrong. Whether it is Virginia’s soccer reputation or yours, only you are responsible for the reputation you have earned on the field. No one else is responsible; and certainly not the young man whose words are being sung.

The same is true for coaches, teams, parents, fans, and leagues. Reputations are earned. They also precede you. Once a reputation has been established, it is difficult to change.

One area where reputations play a part, rightfully or not, is with referees. When I referee, I try to go into a game with as clear and unbiased a mind as possible. But I also like to go into each game prepared. I’ll ask fellow referees for background information on the two teams and particular players. I’ll try to find out the scores of the previous games played between the two teams. I’ll access the play and the behavior of the players before the game.

In addition, the more I referee, the more personal information I have gathered and use for upcoming games. I know who the better players are and which players are physical and sometimes overly-physical. I know whether a coach is going to question all my calls and I know if the parents and fans are knowledgeable or not. I try not to let these reputations affect my calls, but I am only human.

The beginning of a new season is a great time to work on one’s reputation. With each new season, there is usually enough turnover and enough time has lapsed, making it possible for everyone to start with a relatively clean slate. So, Virginia, if you feel like you or your soccer team has an unwarranted or unjust reputation, now is the perfect time to change it.

Cheating Referees

March 23, 2010

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.

Silver Lining to Aaron Ramsey’s Broken Leg

February 28, 2010

There was an ugly injury in the EPL this Saturday (February 27, 2010). A hard tackle by Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross resulted in a gruesome leg injury for Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey. Aaron, a very promising young midfielder, is certainly done for the season and probably the calendar year. Let’s hope he is able to recover and resume his career at the same high level.

A silver lining you ask?

  • Though the tackle was hard, there was no way Ryan wanted to injure Aaron like he did. He was truly remorseful on the field and after the game. It was a nice gesture that he went to Aaron’s side after being shown the red card. It was also nice to see Ryan accept his red card punishment without argument. Too many players will argue a dismissal even after blatantly and intentionally fouling another player.
  • Referee, Peter Walton, handled the situation very well. He acted swiftly in issuing the red card. It was also great that he read the situation correctly and allowed Ryan to apologize to Aaron on the field.
  • The rest of the players, especially the Arsenal players, could have easily lost their cool. They did not. I think they understood that this was not Ryan’s intention.

No one ever wants to see that type of injury. But at least good sportsmanship and cool heads prevailed. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery Aaron.

Referee the Way You Would Want Your Game Refereed

October 1, 2009

I have many, many pet peeves. When it comes to refereeing, my biggest is when a referee or assistant referee (AR) simply does not put forth the effort.

I would like to see all referees recite the following oath before receiving or renewing their referee license: I will referee all games the way I would want my games refereed. If you can’t or don’t believe in this, then you should not be a referee.

I understand many referees may never have played soccer or will never play. That’s OK. Then these referees should recite this backup oath: Soccer players, coaches, fans, and my fellow colleagues deserve 100% of my effort each and every time I referee a game.

Nothing upsets me more than when I see young, able-bodied referees and ARs officiate from the center of the field or in only one position on the touchline. There is no way you can properly and consistently call fouls, out-of-play, throw-in direction, or offside without being in the proper position. As a center referee, it is not necessary to always be on top of the play but the effort needs to be there. As for ARs, there is no excuse for not being in line with the second-to-last defender. If you are unwilling or incapable of putting forth this effort, then you should not be a referee.

The following is some advice I have received or believe strongly in:

  • Don’t officiate too many games per day. While you may be physically fit, the mind tends to wander after a while. 3 games per day is normally plenty.
  • Try to learn something new or improve in some way every time you referee. This will keep you focused and motivated.
  • Be in shape

What other advice to do have?

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Play the Whistle

September 4, 2009

I know many of you have heard the expression “Play the Whistle”. It means that players should continue to play until the referee blows her whistle. This is great advice that all players should follow. However, many times at the youth level you will see players stop for various reasons:

  • They believe a foul or infraction was committed. For instance, the ball hits a hand or arm, someone fell down from contact, a player was in an offside position, etc.
  • They believe the ball left the field of play.
  • They saw the assistant referee’s (AR’s) flag go up.
  • They heard a whistle from another game.
  • They heard parents and coaches yelling for a foul or infraction.

There is not much that can be done about another game going on at the same time. Some referees have different-sounding whistles for just this situation. If not, players usually adapt to a multi-whistle environment quickly so any confusion will usually happen just once. With regard to the other examples:

  • A hand-ball is called when a player INTENTIONALLY handles the ball with the hand or arm. At the youth level, ‘intentional’ has a very broad interpretation. Play until the whistle is blown.
  • Referees are instructed not to blow the whistle every single time the ball goes out-of-play. The only time they will is when it is not obvious that the ball has gone out. A ball is technically out-of-play when the ‘whole of the ball’ has completely crossed a boundary line. As a rule, anytime the ball is close to a boundary line, let the referee and her whistle decide when the ball is out-of-play. The players should continue to play.
  • An AR (linesman/linesperson) is there to ASSIST the referee. Their flag can’t officially stop the game. Otherwise, they would have a whistle. By raising her flag, the AR is only suggesting that an offside occurred or that a foul or infraction took place. The referee is the final decision-maker. Wait for her whistle.

My U10 boys team won a tournament one year when in the finals, in OT, one of my players, aware that the whistle had not blown, scored the golden-goal game winner while everyone else was standing around. The rest of the players thought the ball had gone over the goal line. However, the referee did not think so and never blew his whistle. Could the ball have been out-of-play? Probably, given the way my players and the other team reacted. The lesson is that only one person’s opinion matters–the referee’s. The other team learned a very valuable and costly lesson that day. I’d be surprised if those players ever made that mistake again.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: Good Sportsmanship

September 3, 2009

In many ways, it is disappointing that I am writing about good sportsmanship making a 2-3 goal difference per game. In an ideal world, we–players, coaches, and parents–would all exhibit good sportsmanship. Unfortunately, we know that this is rarely the case. But those teams whose players, coaches, and parents exhibit good sportsmanship will have an advantage over a team of poor sports in the eyes of the most important person/people on the soccer field–the referees.

Referees are just like you and me. They love the sport of soccer, don’t like individuals who complicate their lives, and like all of us, make mistakes. Referees are human. And because they are human, they will see and appreciate good sportsmanship.

These are some examples of good sportsmanship:

  • If a player fouls an opponent, have the player who committed the foul ask the opponent if he is OK. Extend a hand to help him up.
  • Don’t argue or talk back to the referee. If he made a bad call, keep in mind that the referee has made far fewer mistakes than your players.
  • Be respectful.
  • If an opponent is upset at a player and tries to provoke a confrontation, ignore the challenge. Walk away and let the referee handle the confrontational player.
  • Adhere to the referee’s pre- and in-game instructions. If you are supposed to sub at midfield, sub at midfield. If you and your players are supposed to be 4 feet off the touch line, be 4 feet off the touch line.

As a referee, my job is to judge and call a game with complete impartiality and neutrality. To the best of my ability, I always try to live by this principle. But I am human. I notice and appreciate well-mannered players, coaches, and parents. I also notice and don’t appreciate poorly-behaved players, coaches, and parents. Therefore, if I am a referee:

  • Would I withhold issuing a yellow card on a hard foul if the player who committed the foul shows remorse and compassion toward the fouled player? Maybe.
  • Would I only show a yellow card instead of a straight red on an extremely hard foul if the player who committed the foul shows remorse and compassion toward the fouled player? Maybe.
  • Would I not punish a well-mannered coach and team if  he accidentally had too many players on the field? Maybe.
  • Would I call a direct free kick instead of a penalty on a foul committed by a well-mannered and respectful player that took place only a few inches inside the penalty area? Maybe.

As you can see, I have listed four infractions that if called differently, could have had a huge impact on the outcome of a game. Not that good sportsmen and well-behaved players should ever get favorable calls. But I know for a fact that exhibiting this behavior and character can’t hurt. However, good sportsmanship and behavior should always be practiced, PERIOD! It will make the beautiful game that much more beautiful.

Counter Strategy

This one is easy. Show better sportsmanship and behavior than the opponent. Remember, soccer is not just about winning games. It is also about teaching and building character. No one likes a poor sport.

2-3 Goal Difference Per Game: No Offside Traps

September 3, 2009

I don’t get it. The offside trap is one of the most difficult defensive strategies to implement successfully, yet I see coach after coach yelling at their young players to play an offside trap, especially on free kicks inside the offensive third. My recommendation is that no teams U14 and under should ever employ this tactic. I would even question if older teams should employ it. It is simply too risky and more often than not will lead to more and better scoring opportunities for the other team. These are some reasons why the offside trap is a bad idea:

  • It takes precise defensive coordination to apply an offside trap. All players must be on the same page and must know and when and when not to push up to put the offense in an offside opposition. Invariably, one or more defensive players will not move up which will keep an offensive player onside. Professional players have a hard enough time playing an offensive trap. Just don’t do it!
  • You assume the assistant referee (if there is one) will call the offside correctly. Oftentimes at the younger age groups, the assistant referees (ARs) are just a few years older than the players and they are just learning to be referees. Many of the young ARs don’t follow the second-to-last defender so they will not be in a good position to call the offside. In addition, calling the offside correctly is one of the most difficult calls to make in soccer given the new interpretation of the offside law. Just don’t do it!
  • The new offside law makes it OK for an offensive player to be in an offside if they are not playing the ball or are not directly involved in the play. This makes the call of the AR that much more difficult and uncertain. Just don’t do it!

Offensive Strategy

If you are fortunate enough to be playing a team which believes in the offside trap, count your blessings and count on more scoring opportunities. The best way to counter an offside trap is to:

  • Test the offside trap. The defense needs to be well-coordinated to pull off a successful offside trap. Test them early in the game to see how well they do. If you have several offside calls made against you, so what.
  • Kick the ball across the field into open space. The player the defense is least worried about is the opposite winger. As long as that winger is alert and has some speed, they will get plenty of scoring opportunity.
  • Confuse the defenders. Have an offensive player stand in an offside position. The defense will become pre-occupied with that player and will often forget the whereabouts of other players. As long as this player does not play the ball or is not involved in the play, she will not be called for an offside infraction. A few offside calls against you will be well worth the confusion this player generates. If the referee and AR are calling this player offside when she is not, abandon this idea.
  • If a player is in an offside position and the ball is passed her way, have her stand like a statue or simply turn away from the ball. This indicates to the referee and AR that she has no intention of playing the ball. Good referees and ARs will not whistle this infraction. While the defenders and other coach are appealing for a call, have another offensive player from an onside position, chase after the ball. Use good referees and ARs to your advantage.