Monday, November 30, 2009

Wrong Way Referee

This weekend, I worked one day of a large, boys, college showcase tournament.  I've worked this tournament before.  It's always good because you typically have the older ages and the players (for the most part) are on their best behavior as they are trying to impress the many college coaches that show up to scout.
In the morning, we meet with the assignor at a central location to get our field assignment, game cards and tournament ball (why do they always get a lousy ball?).  He makes the announcement that we are to run the opposite diagonal because the fields are getting beat up.  Oh boy!  If you've never done this, I cannot express how confusing it is.
I've only run the reverse diagonal (running toward the right-side corner flag, with your leading AR on your left) for a 1/2 game, about a year ago.  I got to run it for 2 complete U-17 boys games on Saturday and I was the AR for 3 more games.  It's amazing to me how something so simple can screw up a perfectly good referee.  For the first 1/2 of both games, I felt really uncomfortable and had a hard time finding good positioning.  I got hit by the ball no less than 3 times in 2 games.  I finally figured out I was lagging too far behind play and not getting wide enough.  I felt out of place all day, even though I greatly improved in the 2nd half of both games.
I was not the only one.  My colleagues seem to be struggling a bit as well.
As an AR, it's still awkward.  It's odd sprinting down the field, looking right to see the offside line!  Try signaling offside with your left hand.  It just doesn't feel right!  Next time you have a lower level game, run the opposite diagonal to see what it's like.
What is your definition of abusive or insulting language?  We had a game in which one of the coaches started in on the officials within the first few minutes of the game.  They were not particularly abusive, but I would call the action dissent.    I was the team-side AR on the game.  I asked the coach at least 2 times to stop with the questioning.  At one point, when I was down by the corner flag, I saw the coach engage in a heated debate with the opposing coach.  I sprinted down the line and got in front of him.  I gave him the "Coach, I have had enough.  Stop now."  He apologized and I walked away.  As I'm walking away, he yells at my back that the other team is "a bunch of cheats."  In my little world, calling anyone in a soccer game a cheat is abusive.  Soccer has a tradition of sporting conduct, and calling anyone a cheat is at least insulting.  I immediately called the referee over and told him what happened.  He tells me to give the team one more chance.  Doh!
Guess what?  At the end of the game, we had a mass confrontation because this same coach was mouthing off to the opposing team's players!  Just a reminder, when your AR tells you a coach has to go, they are probably right.
So what do you do if you have a tree hanging over the field and the ball hits it?  We had just this situation on our field.  Hint: It's not a dropped ball situation.  I found this in "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game":
(c) Pre-existing conditions
These are things on or above the field which are not described in Law 1 but are deemed safe and not generally subject to movement. These include trees overhanging the field, wires running above the field, and covers on sprinkling or draining systems. They do not affect one team more adversely than the other and are considered to be a part of the field. If the ball leaves the field after contact with any item considered under the local ground rules of the field to be a pre-existing condition, the restart is in accordance with the Law, based on which team last played the ball. (Check with the competition for any local ground rules.)
Note: The difference between non-regulation appurtenances and pre-existing conditions is that, if the ball makes contact with something like uprights or crossbar superstructure, it is ruled out of play even if the contact results in the ball remaining on the field. Where there is a pre-existing condition (such as an overhanging tree limb), the ball remains in play even if there is contact, as long as the ball itself remains on the field. Referees must be fully aware of and enforce any rules of the competition authority or field owner regarding non-regulation appurtenances.
Yes, this surprised me too.  I think the best practice here is to remind the teams ahead of time how this is going to be handled.  I never thought I'd actually see this situation, but upon observing the other fields, I noticed there were 2 or 3 fields with trees overhanging one goal area and 1 field with a tree near halfway.


Anonymous said...

I have had center referees tell me that if I see someone needing a card or a coach needing to go that there will be no "what did he do" "What did he say" it will be an instant action on his part to follow through. We need more trust in each other as I know if I am ever a center and get told by my AR that someone needs to go that I will do it without blinking an eye!!

Unknown said...

I just found this site, and find a lot of what you say relevant and interesting. As a new referee about to begin his career in high school, I don't have much to offer in experience, but I have been reading up quite a bit. Let me say that I agree on principle with you about trusting your AR's call. However, there is an argument to be made for what your center did. While reading up on managing the technical area, I came across this paragraph:

When the fourth official has determined that his utilization of the “TELL”
step has been insufficient and the conduct in the technical area continues
to be irresponsible and, thus, the fourth official is ready to escalate to the
“REMOVE” step, the fourth official shall notify the referee. At a stoppage,
the referee shall approach the technical area and “warn” the coach that any
further irresponsible behavior will result in a dismissal from the game.
Thereafter, any further irresponsible behavior will result in immediate
dismissal (the “REMOVE” step).

While we may not agree with the decision, your center may have just been following this directive. Too bad it led to a negative situation after the game. Just another bit of reinforcement for the "Law 18" I've heard so much about.