Week 8 – Refereeing

I have been wondering what to blog about for last week and after the last two weekends I have decided to blog about refereeing. I am a level 7 referee and in the last year have been going for referee promotion to level 6. This has been no easy feat. As I play football myself and have a hectic schedule the only games I have been able to referee have all been men’s on a Saturday afternoon. It was just over a year ago when I did my first men’s game. It was a local game between two Yeovil District and County League division 3 sides. The game actually went really well and I was surprised by how much respect the players displayed. I was unsure if this was because I was a female ref or because if they generally was pretty good towards male referees too. After the game I received some very positive comments which was pleasing to hear. It was the success of this game that helped me decide I would go for promotion.

I should find out by the end of the month if I have been successful in my promotion campaign. I have had 3 positive assessments so I am hopeful but due to cancellations of games I only managed 18 games in the promotion season, not the 20 that is advised. So we shall wait and see. In those games, I have given 1 red card and numerous yellows. The red card was for offensive, insulting and abusive language towards another player. The yellows have been for a number of things ranging from reckless tackles to dissent. The main reason I wanted to blog though is the lack of respect shown at times from players. My last two games in particular have at times made me question why I do it. As a referee I sometimes expect people to contest decisions as do I on occasions (not very often). But the extent that it happens even though I know it is the correct one, makes me realise why not many people referee. It is not for the fainthearted. I strongly believe that if there was less ‘moaning’ from players there would be more referees. Don’t get me wrong, I deal with situations that I need to but sometimes the nature of the game requires less. I even had to say to two grown men this weekend to stop acting like primary school children. 

I feel something different could be done by the FA to discourage some behaviours. I know the respect campaign helps to a certain extent but if all players were to sign a code of conduct when they sign on, then there could be some form of consequence if they breached it then maybe it could improve. This obviously sounds easier than it is, the reality is that people probably wouldn’t sign it. It is just one idea that might get them to think about how they speak to others. As a player, you do not get all the moaning and language in women’s football that you do in men’s, so surely something should be done. Perhaps players could also learn the laws of the game. This helped me as a player and would help players know what they are actually allowed to do. Or not to do. An increased understanding of the game can only have a positive effect. But once again, the question of getting people to do it would be the biggest barrier. 

One factor that does not help the situation is professional football. They get away with challenging the ref, you rarely see a red card for offensive language towards the referee even though you can clearly see it being used. The laws of the game state it isn’t allowed, yet at the highest level they put up with it. The only reason I can think of is money. The players get paid so much and there is so much money in football in general that it is just accepted. These men are role models to young children, this is what they see. So then if they are doing it then surely it’s ok for other to. As a teacher I see this in boys in school. I have taught football to 2 different boys PE groups, in both groups pupils were questioning decisions. This is because they think it is ok to do so. I had a conversation with 2 boys in particular about respect. I was gobsmacked with their responses and their logic behind what they were saying. That it is ok to moan at other players or the referee because they want to win. 

Another factor that prompted this post was a discussion in my GCSE PE group about refereeing last week.  They know I referee and asked me a related question. They play U15 level and have younger referees that they seemingly know of. In particular, they told me that their referee who was 17, didn’t turn up at the weekend because he was fed up with being treated badly. This is the kind of behaviour that needs to stop. If young referees are being put off then eventually there won’t be anyone left who does enjoy it or actually wants to referee grassroots football. I pointed out to them that if they carried on then there wouldn’t be anyone to referee their games. How would they feel if they were treated like that. I firmly believe that when people get caught in the ‘moment’ they don’t think about their actions or the consequences. 

Everyone has their own opinions about referees and yes, sometimes mistakes are made. They are human. It is actually really hard to make a decision in a split second when some things happen so fast. So, I ask you to consider your behaviour on the pitch. I imagine the majority of you are thankful and grateful for them. But for some individuals. How can you support referees instead of making their job more difficult. Without referees, football cannot be played. Well, as fairly as it would be with them there. There are vital to the game. Repect them. 

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