Entries related to Technical Area/Bench

THE PROBLEM
Many referees, particularly those newly-minted and inexperienced, run into situations in which they are not certain about what to do and where the line should be drawn in dealing with team officials:
* When is it appropriate to ask the coach to leave the field?
* When is enough enough?
* How much abuse must I and my assistant referees (and the players) take?

According to Law 5, the referee “takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds.” By no stretch of the imagination do most, and certainly not many, coaches or other team officials behave irresponsibly. However there are enough of them that referees need to have a plan of action. This article is designed to help referees at all levels do that.

Here are some examples of irresponsible behavior, directed by coaches or other team officials at referees, assistant referees, fourth officials, players of the opposing or their own team, and opposing coaches:
1. Screaming at or verbally or physically abusing the officials or any players or other participants for any reason.
* a youth coach “who begins to scream at his players when the game begins and does not stop until long after the game is over. With every touch of the ball by his team he gives (screams) instructions to the players off the ball as well as the player with the ball. With every touch of the ball by the other team he is giving (screaming) specific instructions to each player on his team as fast as he can get them out of his mouth. Much of what he says is negative and all mistakes are pointed out and players are taken to task. He is a physically intimidating person who loves to argue about anything and most area referees just stay as far away from him as they can.”
* ordering a player who has made a mistake to “drop and give me ten” (pushups) right there on the field.
* Speaking insulting words or making offensive gestures * making unwanted contact with opponents

2. Interfering with the game in any way, such as:
* yelling out instructions to do something illegal or giving deceptive instructions.
* when coaches become actively involved in helping their team deceive the opponents, such as saying that player “x” should do this or that and clearly intending something else to occur (as discovered after the restart).
* clearly instructing the players to line up within the required distance and “have the referee move you.”
* instructing his/her team, both on the field and on the bench, to jump up and down, waving their arms, and scream at the top of their lungs.
* giving tactical instructions to other players when invited to enter the field to see to the injury of a player.
* presuming to give the officials instructions on how to make or signal their calls.
* insisting that an opposing player be cautioned or sent off.
* throwing objects in protest
* kicking chairs
* striking advertising boards
* persistently and flagrantly protesting decisions by an official * interfering with the performance of assistant referee or fourth official duties * refusing to return to the technical area * entering the field of play without the permission of the referee * failing to deal with team spectators who loudly and persistently harass or insult the referee team

There is a widespread trend within the nation and the soccer community toward eliminating abuse of young people by any adults. The referee is certainly empowered to ensure responsible behavior by the team official in that regard. The method chosen would be up to the individual referee. The first action to consider is a quiet word with the coach or other team official to let him or her know that the behavior will not be allowed to continue.

WHAT CAN THE COACH OR OTHER TEAM OFFICIALS DO?
Under the Law, only one person at a time is authorized to convey tactical instructions from the technical area — in most soccer games this term includes the team area, where they have their bags and chairs. The coach and other officials must remain within its confines except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player. The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner. Team officials are also encouraged to promote sporting behavior by their players and supporters.

As a practical matter, particularly at the youth level, any POSITIVE coaching is allowed. Whether at the level of the least experienced players (and coaches) or at the highest levels, any case in which the coach behaves irresponsibly will result in the coach being dismissed. (Two examples from among many: ranting at the referee, overt participation in deception of the opposing team.)

Beyond the reasonable expectation that the referee will call a good game, the coach has no “right” to anything in the game of soccer, other than the right to conduct him-/herself responsibly during the game — from within the technical or bench area — while offering advice to his/her team’s players.

A referee who allows coaches or other team officials to parade around the field or shout abuse at players in the guise of instruction, in contravention of the requirements in Law 5 that coaches behave responsibly and that referees not permit anyone other than players to enter the field, should be ashamed.

A coach may do nothing during the match about any decision of the referee.

If it seems necessary, the coach may submit a report to the appropriate authorities after the match. To do anything else during the match would likely be considered irresponsible behavior, for which offense the coach would be dismissed by the referee.

WHAT CAN THE REFEREE DO?
First and foremost, live up to the reasonable expectations of the coaches, team officials, and players that you will call a good game. Do not invent your own rules.

Coaches and other team officials are expected to behave responsibly. (See Law 5, The Technical Area, and Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees, the only three places in the Laws where team officials are mentioned.) The intelligent referee will generally disregard coaching comments, unless they become openly disrespectful of the game and of the refereeing crew. The referee’s first line of defense (unless the behavior is REALLY egregious) is to warn the coach who is behaving irresponsibly. This is the equivalent of a caution, but no card is shown. Then, when the behavior persists (as it usually does, because most coaches who behave this way fail to understand that they must change their errant ways), the coach is expelled from the field for failing to behave in a responsible manner. Please note that under the Laws of the Game, no card may be shown; however, showing the card may be a requirement of the rules of the competition. Let us emphasize: There is no requirement for a warning or a quiet word; that is at the discretion of the referee.

Unless the matter is particularly grave, the referee would usually wait until the next stoppage. However, if the situation is indeed grave — as any case of abuse would be — then stopping the game and drawing attention to the matter is an excellent tool in and of itself. Proactive steps such as the admonition of the coach will usually prevent players who become disgusted with their coach’s behavior from acting out and thus becoming subject to punishment themselves. It sends a clear message that the referee is serious about the matter. In such cases, the referee would stop play with the ball in the possession of the abusive coach’s team (if possible), advise the coach or other team official that this behavior is irresponsible and must stop if the coach or other team official wishes to remain in the vicinity of the field. If this warning is not effective, then another stoppage and the expulsion of the coach must follow. No cards, please, unless the rules of the competition require them. Also, do not engage in extended discussions when doing this in any circumstances: State the message in a calm and firm manner and leave.

In all events you should prepare a supplemental game report or letter to the league on the matter. You might also suggest in the report or letter that they send someone to monitor a couple of games. The letter could be written in such a way that says perhaps the coach was having a bad day, but it should suggest that it might be beneficial to the children involved if someone from the league dropped in for a game or two just to make sure.

Categories: Technical Area/Bench

Question:
In an NPSL match, as the match went on and became more contentious, the assistant coach as well as several substitutes began standing in the technical area, occasionally making dissenting remarks.

One comment by an assessor was to allow only one team official to stand at a time.

Is there any USSF requirement that players or coaches remain seated?

As a fourth official, can I demand that the players or coaches remain seated?

USSF answer (June 17, 2010)
The competition rules of NPSL do nor require team officials to stand one at a time, nor that they remain seated. The same applies to the published USSF indoor rules, probably because most facilities don’t always even have seats in the benches.

However, if the teams were playing outdoor soccer, the Law does require that only one team official at a time be standing in the technical area.

Question:
On what grounds can a referee stop and abandon a soccer match

USSF answer (March 31, 2010):
An interesting question, one that requires a good bit of space to answer completely.

Under the Laws of the Game (or, as they are called in Great Britain, the Laws of Association Football), the referee has the power to stop, suspend or abandon the match, at his discretion for any infringements of the Laws or for outside interference of any kind. A referee (or where applicable, an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for a decision to abandon a match for whatever reason.

We need first to differentiate between “abandon” and “terminate” a match. The difference between terminating a match and abandoning a match is a subtle one, but it is historically correct and supported by traditional practice. (Research into the history of the Laws will reveal this clearly; the IFAB now uses “abandon” almost exclusively, most likely just to confuse us all.) The referee may abandon a match if there is an insufficient number of players to meet the requirements of the Law or the competition, if a team does not appear or leaves before completion of the game, or if the field or any of its equipment do not meet the requirements of the Laws or are otherwise unsafe; i. e., for technical (Law 1) or physical (Law 4) safety. An abandoned match is replayed unless the competition rules provide otherwise. The referee may terminate a match for reasons of non-physical safety (bad weather or darkness), for any serious infringement of the Laws, or because of interference by spectators. Only the competition authority, not the referee, has the authority to declare a winner, a forfeit, or a replay of the match in its entirety. The referee must report fully on the events. “Suspended” means that a match was stopped temporarily for any of various reasons. After that the match is either resumed, abandoned, or terminated and the competition rules take over.

CONDITION OF THE FIELD (AND APPURTENANCES)
• Law 1 states that if the crossbar becomes displaced or broken, play is stopped until it has been repaired or replaced in position. If it is not possible to repair the crossbar, the match must be abandoned. In addition, if the referee declares that one spot on the field is not playable, then the entire field must be declared unplayable and the game abandoned.

• A careful inspection of the field before the start of the game might lead the referee to abandon the game before it was started. If, once the match has begun, the referee discovers a problem that is not correctable, then the referee’s decision must be to abandon the game and report the matter to the competition authority.

• Under Law 5, the referee is authorized to stop play if, in his opinion, the floodlights are inadequate.

INTERFERENCE BY PLAYERS, OTHER PARTICIPANTS, OR SPECTATORS
If an object thrown by a spectator hits the referee or one of the assistant referees or a player or team official, the referee may allow the match to continue, suspend play or abandon the match depending on
the severity of the incident. He must, in all cases, report the incident(s) to the appropriate authorities. Using the powers given him by Law 5, the referee may stop, suspend or terminate the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws or for grave disorder (see below). If he decides to terminate the match, he must provide the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match. In no event may the referee determine the winner of any match, terminated or not. Nor may the referee decide whether or not a match must be replayed. Both of those decisions are up to the competition authority, i. e., the league, cup, tournament, etc.

“Grave disorder” would be any sort of dustup involving the players and/or spectators and/or team officials which puts the officials in immediate or likely subsequent jeopardy — fights which metastasize beyond just 2 or 3, masses of spectators invading the pitch, throwing dangerous objects (e. g., firecrackers, butane lighters, etc.) onto the field, and so forth.

THE NUMBER OF PLAYERS
• The referee has no authority to force a team to play if they do not wish to continue a game nor to terminate the match in such a case. The referee will simply abandon the game and include all pertinent details in the match report.

• In the opinion of the International F.A. Board, a match should not be considered valid if there are fewer than seven players in either of the teams. If a team with only seven players is penalized by the award of a penalty-kick and as a consequence one of their players is sent off, leaving only six in the team, the game must be abandoned without allowing the penalty-kick to be taken unless the national association has decided otherwise with regard to the minimum number of players.

• The referee must not abandon the game if a team loses a kicker after kicks from the mark begin. The kicks must be completed.

• If a player has been seriously injured and cannot leave the field without risking further injury, the referee must stop the game and have the player removed. If, for whatever reason, there is no competent person available to oversee removal of the seriously injured player from the field for treatment, then the match must be abandoned.

• If player fraud is alleged prior to the game and the player will admit that he is not the person on the pass he has presented and the game has already begun, the referee will have to deal with the matter of an outside agent on the field. If the fraud were not discovered until after the game had been restarted, the only solution would be to abandon the match. If there is no goal issue, the fraudulent player is removed and the game is restarted with a dropped ball.

• If a player, from a team with only seven players, leaves the field of play to receive medical attention, the match will stop until this player has received treatment and returns to the field of play. If he is unable to return, the match is abandoned, unless the member association has decided otherwise with regard to the minimum number of players.

In all cases, the referee must submit a full report to the appropriate authorities.

AMOUNT OF TIME PLAYED
If the referee discovers that a period of play was ended prematurely but a subsequent period of play has started, the match must be abandoned and the full details of the error included in the game report.

TEAM OFFICIALS
The Laws make the point that the coach and other team officials must BEHAVE RESPONSIBLY and thus may not shout, curse, interfere, or otherwise make a nuisance of themselves The coach’s presence, or the presence of any other team official, is generally irrelevant to the game — under the Laws of the Game, but it may have some importance under the rules of youth competitions. If the coach or other team official is removed, known in the Law as “expelled,” that person must leave the field and its environs. If it is a youth game and the coach and all other team officials have been expelled, then the referee should consider abandoning the game. A full report must be filed with the competition authority. The referee has no authority to determine who has won or lost the game, whether by forfeit or any other process; that is the responsibility of the competition authority. The referee must file a report on all events associated with the abandonment.

RESULT OF THE MATCH
Once the game begins, only the referee has the right to decide whether the game continues, is suspended temporarily, terminated or abandoned. If a game is abandoned or terminated before it is completed, the determination of the result is up to the competition authority (league, cup, tournament). In most cases, competitions declare that if a full half has been played, the result stands, but that does not apply to all competitions. The referee does not have the authority to declare what the score is or who has won the game. The referee’s only recourse is to include in his game report full details of what caused the match to be abandoned or terminated. The status of an abandoned is determined by the rules of the competition or the competition authority itself. There is no set amount of time, but many rules of competition will call a game complete if a full half has been played.

Question:
how many coaches are allowed in the coaches box during a game?

USSF answer (January 18, 2010):
Under USSF guidelines and in the absence of any competition authority rule specifying otherwise, anyone other than a substitute who is in the technical area is to be considered a team official. Some youth leagues allow as many as four, but the number of coaches permitted in the coaches box (generally known as the technical area) is determined by the rules of the particular competition or competitions in which you referee. Your assignor should be able to supply you with the rules.