Referee Nuts and Bolts – November 2011

Referee Nuts and Bolts – November 2011

by:  John Van de Vaarst

Volume 30 – November 2011

This monthly column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those basic techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are often forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing.  The short discussions and accompanying tips stress important advice for competent performance.

This month’s article focuses on making the tough call and dealing with the critical situations.

There are many times during the course of a season and at times during one game that critical calls must be made by the referee.   Some people call these the moment of truth and others just accept them as part of the game.  In either case, the referee must make a decision, control emotions and keep the game in control.  This article will provide several examples that a referee must deal with that can cause loss of game control or future problems for the referee.

A border line foul is committed by the defensive team just inside the penalty area or near the side of the area while the attacking player is moving away from the goal.  Should the referee award a penalty kick?  This is a decision the referee must make rapidly.  What are the options? a)call the penalty and more than likely the team will score a goal b)make up an indirect free kick foul so the attackers will have a free kick but not a penalty kick c) ignore the foul and allow play to continue.  Option “b” is not a choice.   This decision will only let the players, coaches, bench personnel and fans know that the official cannot make a critical call and is taking the easy way out.  If the incident is truly a foul, it is a penalty kick.  The only option the referee has is to ignore the foul and allow play to continue.  This can work if it is the type of foul that is somewhat questionable.   However, if the foul is a clear breach of the rules, a penalty kick must be awarded.

Related to the above is a foul is committed by the defensive player in the penalty area during an overtime period.   The referee must immediately decide whether to award the penalty kick or not.   Making the call could easily result in the goal being scored and the game won by the kicking team.   The referee must show extreme courage in this situation and if the foul warrants the call then the penalty kick should be awarded.  About the only option for the referee is if there is a clear advantage and a strong opportunity for the attacking team to score on the advantage call..   If this works out the referee will have allowed the players to win the game on the field and there should be no controversy.  However, if the advantage is not realized, the referee will have a tough situation to deal with for the remainder of the game.  Making this type of call is what makes a referee one of the top in the Country.

During a recent high school game with the attacking team loosing by one goal, they chipped the ball over the defense.   A player broke through and was running toward the ball.   The goalkeeper came out of the penalty area and leaped in the air to clear the ball.   In the process, the goalkeeper fouled the attacking player with the goalkeepers knees up near the attacking player’s face.   The attacking player is on the ground and clearly in pain.  Does the referee a) award a direct free kick; b) stop the clock and caution the goalkeeper or c) stop the clock and eject the goalkeeper. This decision must be made with no hesitation.   Clearly, all players and coaches must know the decision to prevent retaliation.  At a minimum, the goalkeeper should be cautioned.  If the referee felt it was serious foul play, an ejection is appropriate.  No matter which decision is made there is going to be controversy.   If it is a caution, the opponents will claim there player was hurt and the goalkeeper should have been ejected.  If it is an ejection, the coach of the goalkeeper’s team will protest because the goalkeeper is out of the game and will be suspended for the next.  The referee must make their position very clear and keep the dissent to a minimum.  If the injured player is removed quickly, the best thing the official can do is get the game restarted.  If the player needs attention on the field, the referee must keep the opposing players separated to prevent retaliation, taunting, etc.   The referee must be extremely professional when responding to the coach who is protesting and keep their composure.

The above are but three examples of when a referee must use their skills, knowledge of the game and their people management skills to maintain game control and ensure the game proceeds without further problems.