We’re all guilty of saying things to referees and we know it. As a result, referees are starting to leave soccer leagues due to harassment and intimidation from spectators, coaches, and players. Referees already have a difficult enough task of objectively trying to manage a game but add on threats to their life and things start to get concerning. We have all witnessed first hand players overstepping their bounds and assaulting referees, all to try and change the outcome of a call. It doesn’t work and will only get you into more trouble.
Some areas are so desperate they are taking referees from other sports. I went to a high school soccer match earlier this year in Texas and saw a referee making football (American football) hand gestures during certain plays. I almost said something to the coaches about it but understood the shortage and why they needed it. Is 2 soccer referees and 1 football referee better than 2 soccer referees (and consequently not having two dedicated linesmen)? I don’t know the answer but things will start getting even more problematic if we don’t make a change.
The good folks over at Soccer Parenting have a great write-up about the current situation and how there might be ways we can fix it. “Could your soccer league function without referees?” they asked. The response of course, “Probably not!” This is an important concept to remember, especially for youth teams as we should be leaders both on and off the field. Kids see everything we do as parents and coaches. So let’s set a better example and make the right decisions when approaching referees.