Soccer parents need to respect the referee

It’s getting harder to get referees for junior matches. So what can we do about it and why is there a shortage?

Problems off the pitch

Hundreds of junior games are abandoned every year by the referee. Why? Well it isn’t due to the players. In my experience it isn’t on the pitch where the problem lies, it’s off it. On Saturday my under-11s team were complaining not about the behaviour of the referee or the other players but about the parents of the other team. Snarling, sneering parents leaping around at goals scored, raising fists at goals against, berating the referee at every turn. Not pretty. And you wonder why many leagues now require parents to sign good behaviour contracts at the start of the season.

Not enough referees to go around

There are currently 5,000 referees between the ages of 15 and 18 in the UK. Not many stick with it until the age of 21. There are just not enough referees to go around. The rise of women’s football has exacerbated the problem, to such an extent that around 10,000 games are refereed by the likes of you and I. Qualified coaches playing referee.

A question of self control

So why do we all hate referees? The ……. in the black. That’s me on a Saturday morning blowing the whistle for the start of an under 9s match and the big guy with the bald head is already giving me the glaring eye. Don’t you dare give a decision against my team. I’ve actually seen referees approached at half time by managers unhappy with their performance. Hey, we’ve seen it on the telly, why not in the local park?

Supporting your flesh and blood

Who would be a referee? When you support your heroes out on the pitch, be it Chelsea, Barcelona or LA Galaxy, its nothing compared to watching your flesh and blood out there. And he’s only, what? Five at most and some referee, aged anywhere between 14 and 50, is telling him off for a crime he didn’t commit! So you become enraged and take it out on the ref.

Zip up those lips

But, and it’s a big but, young soccer players have to be taught to respect referees by parents and the way to do that is for parents to zip up their lips and show respect themselves. As a coach you have to teach your players not to react to bad decisions. We all get them. The players look up to you, and to their parents. All it takes is a bit of self control.

Let’s make the life of a referee a little bit easier so we start to hear “Dad, can I be a referee?” again.

Click here for soccer coaching tips to handle a side that cheats.

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