Dealing with and recognising the different types of crowd and player interaction
In this, the first of this years coaching blogs, I will deal with the potentially biggest and hardest areas referees have to deal with, dissent and abuse.
Firstly lets look dispassionately at the different levels and types of interaction we as match officials have to deal with every game.
Every single participant in sport has to deal with crowd interaction as well as player interaction. Not all of it is abuse. Crowd members will yell out ‘advice’ to both opposing players, as well as their own team to let them know what they think of them. Especially when a player makes a mistake. Players let other players know too. Referees and the assistants are the same, as active participants in a sporting contest we are seen as fair game. Not all of this ‘advice’ is abuse. Most of this should be water of the ducks back to match officials. We should be thinking ‘smile and wave boys’ when we hear it, as it’s is usually wrong and very often misinformed.
The same can be said of the ‘advice’ we can sometimes receive from the players. Mostly they are wrong, usually because they don’t know any better. Often because we have a better angle than them. The call of ‘offside’ from the mid-fielder or goalkeeper 20 or 30m away is a good example. Once more we can usually ‘smile and wave’ knowing we were right and they are misguided at best.
I do, however, think we all know when the line has been crossed. The ‘advice’ is yelled, the body language is aggressive and prolonged. Where it crosses the line to dissent both verbal and by action we as match officials need to deal with it consistently. ARs need to be letting the referee know (at the time not at a break or after the game) that the line has been crossed if it happens behind play and referees need to stamp it out early if it happens to them or they see it happening to their ARs. We have the have the tools to deal with this in our pockets. If the verbal warning doesn’t work use your cards.
When dissent or abuse comes from the technical area we have new powers and laws to deal with this and they need to be used, if we ignore it it will only happen to the next match official the following week.
The more difficult area is when the ‘advice’ particularly from the crowd, goes past dissent and goes to abuse. If a player or team official abuses or intimidates any match official then they MUST be dismissed. Once any match official feels threatened or intimidated by a member of the crowd then that needs to be dealt with differently to just ‘smiling and waving’. This is unacceptable behaviour and should never be tolerated. We have several avenues available and they all vary slightly.
- The referee can ask for the duty officer at a break in play to speak to or remove the offending person and then after the game lodge a conduct report. If you are an AR then you ask the referee at the break in play to do so.
- We can wait till after the game and lodge a conduct report.
- We can use the upcoming RefLIVE app to report any unacceptable behaviour. And if required or if you are subsequently asked to, also lodge a conduct report.
The one thing that doesn’t vary is that we must act and we must report officially on it via a send off or conduct report. If it is ignored one week it won’t go away. Someone else will just cop it next week.
We as match officials all need to be strong and consistent in not standing for either abuse and/or dissent. Use the tools that we have, either our cards or conduct reports. Not doing so only lets down your fellow match officials that will inevitably cop the same treatment in the following weeks.
Till next time.
Match Officials Development Officer – FFNC