Referee Abuse Directive


There have been a number of issues brought to my attention this season. In addition, I witnessed one coach this past weekend, who I spoke to during the game but was never addressed by the referee in a U12 game. We need to do a better job during the game of dealing with abuse.

So what is ABUSE?

What are the signs as to when the referee should get involved?

Not limited to:

  1. Constant complaining from the bench.
  2. Questioning every decision
  3. Sarcastic remarks
  4. Personal attacks
  5. Gyrating actions
  6. Kicking or throwing objects
  7. Unpleasant comments by the spectators or parents
  8. Personal attacks on any member of the officiating crew
  9. If you are threatened in any way

Let’s be clear, this is not the case in every game. Raise your awareness level. Protect our younger referees. They do not deserve the abuse. The question you must ask yourself.

Would I want my son or daughter or my mom or dad to be treated like this? If the answer is no, then you should not take the ABUSE either.

What do I need to do?

Ask, Tell, Dismiss Process

The following process is recommended for all officials to follow relative to conduct within the technical area.

  • Ask

If a situation arises where there is irresponsible behavior, you are to ASK the person(s) to stop.

  • Tell

If there is another occurrence where there is irresponsible behavior, you are to inform that person that the behavior is not permissible and TELL them (insist) to stop.

  • Dismiss

If the non-accepted actions continue, you must REMOVE that person immediately.

These are the recommended steps from U.S. Soccer but they are not necessary if the behavior and conduct of personnel within the technical area requires immediate dismissal. Remember, where circumstances permit, use a “gentle escalate” approach so that referee team responses match the nature of the bench behavior. Try to use the least intrusive response that will solve the problem.

Be sure to review the ASK, TELL, DISMISS video at US Soccer by clicking on this link:

What You Can Say

Phrases you can say to bench personnel in a polite, respectful, and concise fashion. Comments should be short, to the point, said in a way that will not provoke a negative response:

  • “I hear you” or “I understand you, coach”
  • “Coach, talk to me”
  • “Coach, I will listen to you but not the rest of the bench”
  • “I will pass along the message”
  • “I will talk to the ref/AR”
  • “We will talk about it at half time”
  • “Talk to me rather than shouting”
  • “I know how important this game is to you, it is just as important to us”
  • “Coach, I understand you are upset but you need to calm down”
  • “I can see you don’t agree with the call, but PLEASE – settle down”
  • “Please stop being so visual. Talk to me but don’t wave your hands”
  • “The ref got it, give him a chance”
  • “Where are you going”
  • “Don’t do it”
  • “The ref was there”
  • “This is a game of angles; we have a different angle than the referee”
  • “If I have to call the referee over, you will be dismissed”
  • “Coach, please talk to your assistant, he is getting close my having to take official action”

What You Can’t Say

Officials should avoid any open ended phrases that conjure up debate or that “add fuel to the fire” by inviting further heated conversation Officials cannot:

  • Curse, use abusive or insulting language: “Coach, shut up and sit down”
  • Criticize the members of the referee team: “I agree – he’s having a bad day”
  • Attack or criticize the coach or his team
  • Say what you would have done in that situation
  • Make physical contact with bench personnel
  • Issue threats unless you are ready to enter the “Dismiss” phase and you are ready to follow-through
  • Use phrases that invite further debate or negative discussion

Reasons Why We Don’t Take Action

  • Want to be “friends” with bench personnel
  • Afraid to address or lack of confidence to deal with any altercation
  • Don’t want confrontation
  • Don’t want to be “bad guys”
  • Intimidated by coaches
  • Feel assignments will be impacted negatively
  • Will see the coach again
  • The referee may have made a bad decision. However, the referee’s decision, right or wrong, should not impact other official’s decision to deal with the technical areas
  • Feel it is the referee’s game and other officials don’t want to negatively impact the referee’s game

Actions That “Cross the Line”

The following is a list of actions that require the referee to “dismiss” the appropriate person from the technical area. Dismissal for non-playing personnel should be written as “irresponsible behavior” and specific details noted on the game report.

As a general rule, TELL twice, then REMOVE. Think persistent infringement. Try to prevent getting to the TELL stage. Remember, it is not ASK, TELL . . . TELL . . . TELL . . . TELL, then REMOVE.

  • Coach/bench personnel leaving technical area (including entering the field) to dispute/dissent a call – even if the call isn’t what he thinks it is
  • Coach/bench personnel throwing/kicking anything while disputing a call
  • Coach/bench personnel kicking/hitting advertising boards or bench in dispute of a call
  • Directed abusive, insulting or offensive language and/or gestures
  • Inflammatory and/or aggressive behavior (verbal and/or physical) with the opposition
  • Interfering with the restart of play and field players
  • Making unwanted and/or aggressive contact with opposing players
  • Interfering with the AR or fourth official in the performance of their duties


In the event that you have dismissed a team official or feel that you have been abused/assaulted.

1.Call your assignor immediately after the game

2.Completely document all the pertinent facts with your crew before leaving the venue. If you feel threatened, leave the venue and meet somewhere nearby.

3.Call the SRA within 24 hours to report any suspected abuse or assault.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.