Following our recent article about respect for referees and our interview with MLSPRO General Manager Peter Walton, an anonymous referee administrator who is also a Sounders season ticket holder felt compelled to put his point of view. He asked that due to his position in the refereeing fraternity, he writes under a pen name. We at Prost can however vouch for his senior position in the community and his season ticket.
I AM A REFEREE AND A SOUNDERS FAN – THIS IS MY SAY
By Dave Grantly
The lack of respect and high level of abuse from coaches, spectators and players is the #1 reason why referees quit. Period. Exactly as Dustin Edwards said.
All those people griping about referees need to remember that, just like anything else, you get what you pay for. High turnover creates lower level of experience, which results in referees sent to work matches they are not ready for, which increases the level of abuse, which makes referees quit.
The loudest complainers about referees are also the ones who cause themselves the worst problem – they are creating a lower standard of refereeing. In the short term, they feel high and mighty because they are experienced coaches/players/spectators who hurl so much abuse that they can bring a 15-year-old female referee to tears. But in the long term they are only hurting themselves, limiting their own ability to play top-level soccer, and stunting the growth opportunities for their youth players.
I think that the people who complain the most about referees are the ones who know the least about what it takes to referee. They have absolutely no respect for the position or how hard it is to carry it out effectively. I believe that the rule of thumb should be close to the biblical one, that only “they without sins shall cast the first stone”. In this case, it should be “only they who have done the job should be allowed to criticize.”
And I don’t mean that any referee with an entry-level badge has the right to criticize an MLS ref; I mean that the critic must have worked the same or higher level match to be allowed to criticize a ref’s performance. For example, if (FIFA Match Inspector) Sandy Hunt wants to say something about a referee’s performance, I and everyone else should listen up.
But when some angry guy sitting on the touch line under an umbrella, whose complete soccer resume is to have attended his kids’ U11 matches, wants to give everyone his “expert” opinion from 60 yards away, he needs to be handed a uniform and a whistle and told to show us how well he can do in the referees place.
This is the same person who, after 30 minutes of yelling abuse at the ref, is surprised when a 50-50 call goes against his team. Really? Put yourself in the referee’s shoes – you have a 50-50 call; do you opt in favor of the team that is focused on the game and responding to your calls? Or in favor of the team with the loudmouth bozos on the touchline who have been hurling abuse at you since kickoff?
These fans (and coaches) are actually, if anything, hindering their teams’ cause. I wish they would think about that before starting yet another diatribe against the referee du jour.
I have an interesting way to tackle this.
When it comes to Youth Soccer, all coaches must be required to not only take and pass the entry level course, but also be active referees. No exceptions.
Most youth matches should be refereed under the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” rule. The person making the loudest complaints has to take over and referee until someone else complains louder. Call it the “whiny parent gets the whistle” rule.
Any parents considered to be excessively annoying should be “fined” in terms of matches they owe the club – they need to work a match as a referee for every “ding” on their parental report card. The same should occur for any player who gets a red card, or more than three yellow cards. And double the fines for youth coaches who get out of control.
In adult soccer, each team should be required to supply a full crew to the pool of referees. And they should be required to referee within their own division, so last week’s opponent may be this week’s referee (or vice versa). This can give a whole new meaning to “what goes around, comes around”, and can create an interesting dynamic when roles are reversed.
So much for youth and adult amateur matches.
Now I want to directly address that generic “nincompoop with an attitude” we often encounter in the stands, and I speak mostly as a Sounders fan now.
My Sounders matchday experience is MUCH nicer when that idiotic angry guy in the section next to ours is NOT there.
You know the type; the guy who woke up angry at the planet; the one who starts heaping abuse on the referee crew during warm-ups and who gripes about every single call against Sounders and every single no-call against the opposition as if he was down on the field directing the match himself. And he does it loud enough to make everyone around him uncomfortable.
Yeah, I am talking about “That Guy”. He clearly does not know the rules of the game, but he still manages to blame the referee for whatever frustration he feels about work or family or his lack of sexual prowess.
If you think you could be “That Guy” (and you know who you are), just… stay home, please. Don’t try to make the excuse that you are merely displaying “passion” for your team or for the game. You don’t have “passion” for anything other than being an abusive bully cowardly hidden in a large crowd.
A passionate fan will cheer positively for their team and may express some dismay at a bad call or at an opponent’s good play. But a true passionate fan will never disrespect the game or his team by acting the way “That Guy” does. Don’t fool yourself; by being “That Guy” you are an embarrassment to your friends, your family, your team, your neighbors and the game. Especially your team. Do us all a favor, stay home and yell angry words at your TV.
Two last comments.
First, on Prost’s suggested adoption of the rugby arguing rule. I have played and refereed both rugby and soccer. In soccer, the captain has no official duties, rights or responsibilities other than to represent his/her team at the coin toss. Informally, it is the captain that the referee can turn to when addressing a problem player. It is the captain who is responsible for keeping his/her team under control.
So, in my opinion, heck YES this should be made a more formal role. But as always, that change has to come from FIFA – and you know how long it can take for such changes to occur. Don’t hold your breath.
And second, for those trolls who tried to shut down previous discussion by abusing the author or the website.
Despite your efforts, this type of discussion is EXACTLY what we need to see on the internet and in print. Those of us who love this sport and want it to improve at ALL levels desire intelligent and thoughtful analysis, not scared to tackle controversial subjects by internet bullies. Your negative comments are easily ignored and should be.
Or perhaps you would prefer to pay your class fees, spend 16 hours in an entry-level clinic, pass the written test, pay your registration fees, buy a uniform, cards and whistle, attend the local chapter meetings to get assigned to matches, then go show us how brilliantly you can handle a U11 match.
At least then, you will be a loud expert, and if 300 of my fellow Sounders fans are forced to listen to you, you’ll at least be shouting sense.