Respect an Issue for All:
Player, Parents, Referees and Fans
The issue of respect remains an ongoing challenge for the game of soccer. As you all know, soccer is a game that sparks emotion and passion from players, fans, parents, coaches and referees as well. While things have improved, at times the issue of respect for the role and decisions of the referee remains a problem.
This problem impacts referee retention, as well as recruitment of potential new referees. Like many professions, refereeing takes experience and time on the pitch, both as an assistant referee and a center referee. Respecting the effort they are making, and the fact that the majority of referees are trying to make the correct call, can help. Yes, in the midst of a tightly contested match with emotions high and passionate fans/benches, this may be hard to keep in check. However, making the effort can help the atmosphere of the match.
Adopting the FA goals for the issue of respect would be a positive thing for clubs and teams. This would be a goal to strive for:
Respect is a continuous FA initiative, with the goal of allowing people to play, officiate and watch football without "being abused, mocked, insulted, jeered, physically assaulted, unnecessarily criticized, pushed too hard, driven to tears or laughed at for trying."
Parents and coaches can be models for this approach, which can help players learn to accept a referee decision and get on with the match.
The following example presented in an earlier article on respect still applies. During a match, a parent yelled twice at the assistant referee (AR2) on their touchline, "You're not doing a f ------ thing!" apparently being upset by incidental contact against either their child or a teammate, that neither the AR2 nor the center referee judged to be a foul.
This assistant referee called over the center referee, informed them of what the parent had said and indicated who the offending adult was. This adult, upon seeing the center referee approaching them, and apparently feeling he was exercising his right to free speech, said, "Yeah, I said it." Later, after the parent left the area, another parent in the same area commented, "No referee should ever have that said to them."
These two adults exemplify two very different examples of the respect, or lack of, for referees. Parents and coaches are role models for players, and the audience for the offending parent was much greater than that of the second one. There is a huge difference between a passionate coach and/or spectator being disappointed by an incident and the type of disrespect exemplified in the above example.
For players, dissenting with a referee decision only distracts from focusing on your job on the field, and if the dissent is severe, may result in a caution or worse. Yes, some decisions may not seem fair, but very few (if any) players have the same view as the referee. Players can help the atmosphere of the match by accepting referee decisions or helping a teammate to do so and get on with the match.
The respect issue also involves referees developing skills for communicating with coaches and players in a respectful manner. While the referee's efforts may be respectful, how they are interpreted is up to the receiving party.
Creating and maintaining a respectful, competitive environment is a challenge that all participants, players, coaches, parents, fans and referees can work together to create and maintain before, during and after a match.
Have a great fall season!