Referee Class 101

It seems that we, as referees, are getting away from the basics of soccer officiating. I have been witness to various incidents that referees need and must do.

  1. The basic equipment. Not just the whistles, watches, red and yellow cards, pencil and paper, coin but there is one that should be the basics but some go without. Recently at a game, the game balls did not have enough air. Unfortunately, none of the referees had a pump. Referees should always be prepared—EXPECT TE UNEXPECTED.
  2. More embarrassing is the incident where the referee went to give a player a yellow card, and it seems that he left them in his bag. What do you do now? Since Law 12 states that the player must be shown the yellow card the referee had to ask the AR for his so the player could be properly sanctioned.
  3. More recently in a professional game, the referees walked the field to conduct their field inspection. Four referees walking and talking about the game to prepare. First let’s examine what should the field inspection include.
    • Safety—Is the field safe for players to play on? Free from debris, glass or other objects that may harm players.
    • Bench area. Are there benches and how far are they away from the field? They should not be too close as to pose a danger to the players.
    • Are there nets on the goals? Are the nest secured? Are the goals anchored to the ground so they will not tip over causing possible injury?
    • Are there corner flags? Are they the appropriate height? No shorter than 5’.
    • The markings of the field. Are there visible touch lines, goal lines? Is there a half way line with the 10 yard circle? Are there 11yd hash marks off the goal line for players to be 10 yds from the corner kick? Is there a penalty area marked off with the 10 yard arc just outside the penalty area? Is there a penalty area marked off with the appropriate measurements? Is there a goal area clearly marked? Is there a penalty mark for the taking of a penalty kick? These are very important. Referees for every game should walk off the distance for the goal and penalty area along with the penalty mark.
    • So, what went wrong in this professional game? While the referees performed most of their duties correctly, they, all 4 of the officials, failed to walk off the penalty area for distance. It was not noticed until 1 hour before the game. Since this is a nationally televised game, the field markings had to be corrected and the game delayed 45 minutes. Referees in general, are getting away from the basics that many of us learn early in our careers. We cannot assume that every field is safe and is marked properly. Do your duty and don’t let the basics slip past you.