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Six Values for Referees to Consider

Referees who follow a set of values and the rules and mechanics of the game; are more apt to be respected and be sought-after than those who do not.

Here are six values for your consideration:

Be flexible.  Flexible means “not rigid and responsive to, or readily adjustable to changing conditions.”  The game of soccer has changed in many ways over the years.  Laws, mechanics, and signals have been altered, and referees must keep up with the times.  Be flexible in your officiating.

Be impartial.  Impartial means “unbiased, equitable and not favoring one more than another.”  Don’t accept any game in which you have a connection with either team.  If you miss a call, it is probably because of a loss of concentration. 

Don’t try to even things by making up a call to help the other team.  Regain your focus and call the fouls as you see them.

Be reliable.  Reliable means “suitable or fit to be relied on and trustworthy.”  Reliability means accepting games whenever possible, arriving at the site at least 20 minutes before game time, and having a good pregame. 

Be ready to help others, be in a position to make the calls, and make the tough calls when they need to be made.  You will become accepted when players and coaches know they can rely on you to manage their games fairly and impartially.

Be supportive.  To support is “to uphold by aid and take the side of, especially in dispute.”   Be supportive of your partners.  Coaches will come to you to complain about a call your partner made, and they want you to change the call.  That is unacceptable.  The coach must talk to the official who made the call as he/she is the only one who can change the decision.  Your partner may want to have a private discussion to get your input.  Tell him/her what you saw. 

Should a partner make a call you disagree with, don’t rush up to him/her.  Please wait for a more suitable time, such as halftime or the end of the game, to discuss it.

When partners are involved in an argument with a coach or player, don’t let others get involved.  Be supportive and move all others away from the discussion.

Be tolerant.  Tolerant means “inclined to tolerate, capable of enduring.”  Officials must be tolerant.  Your tolerance will be tested.  Try to understand why the coach or player is arguing and work to delay or prevent a confrontation.  A quick, discreet word or short explanation to a player or coach may defuse the situation.

Be aware of your body language, rolling eyes, pointing fingers.  The best officials are not only good at making calls, but they also have the people skills to help deal with confrontations.

Be approachable.  Approachable is “capable of being approached and accessible.”

How well do you communicate with coaches, players, and partners?   As an official, you must expect confrontations and be prepared to have your calls challenged.  The coach or player may have a legitimate question/concern. The officiating team may have missed a call or made an error in judgment. 

In any case, you must remain calm even though a coach or player is screaming.  By yelling back, you lower yourself to the same out-of-control position as the coach or player.  The official in such situations always loses, even when he/she is right.

Developing good values makes for a better official, a better partner, and a better person.

Pat Ferre

US YOUTH SOCCER (2021 Volunteer of the Year) USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus USSF Referee Instructor USSF Referee Assessor USSF Referee Assignor District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)