C’Mon Ref!

Understanding How to Deal With Referees

Robert Ziukas (Hockey Insider)

In this article, I’m just going to try to give you a good perspective on what a referee thinks, but also how to deal with a referee yourself. I have been reffing soccer for eight years now and in that time, I’ve seen a lot of verbal abuse towards myself and my co-workers.

What do you think yelling at a referee will accomplish? Either the ref will do nothing about it, start calling things against you, or just eject you from the match because they have the authority. None of those options help your situation. The proper way to communicate with a referee is to ask questions in a calm tone of voice, such as, “What did he do to deserve
that penalty or foul?” The referee also doesn’t care who wins. The old saying, “How much did they pay you?” wears thin quickly.

Do you think you know more than the referee? Probably not; chances are that the referee has read the rulebook more than you have. Referees also make the effort to understand the rules. It’s very frustrating in soccer when people yell “Handball!” every time the ball touches a player’s hand. An actual handball only occurs when the player moves their hand towards the ball in order to control it. It’s not as simple as the ball touching the hand anymore, is it? Understanding the rules is very important.

Can you see everything from every angle? Of course not. Another infuriating moment for a referee is when someone claims to see something that they had barely any vision or angle on the play to see. Let’s say you are close to the play and see something better than the referee can. It doesn’t matter. If the referee cannot see it, they can’t call it, which sucks. The hardest part of my job is telling someone that got hurt that a player blocked my view of the play and I couldn’t see the injury-inducing hit.

Are referees perfect? No, they are far from perfect. They are human. The people forget that referees will make mistakes and some people are going to have a bad time. The moment referees forget that they make mistakes, they
become arrogant and a joke to what they represent. Whenever I play soccer, I am very aware of every mistake the referee makes in the games I play. Most of their problems are positioning, but sometimes you do get people that think they are the law and that they are perfect. These are the people that will cause far more problems in the game than fix them. These are the people that give referees a bad name. The only thing you can do about these referees is get their name and write a formal complaint.

Basically, treat referees like human beings. Understand that they make mistakes. Don’t think yelling will solve anything with them. However, if they’re really terrible, write a formal complaint.

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