A Premier League coach from an Asian country asks:
[Revised and summarized] I’m the Assistant Coach in a Premier League for one of the Asian countries. We had an eventful match last week. Around minute 65, an opposing player made a very harsh tackle against my team’s striker and created a very heated situation involving both teams. I felt the Referee did not control the situation and I ran onto the field to help him control things. The situation became more heated when the Referee only gave a yellow card for the tackle. After the game, I approached the Referee and said ” Hi Referee — it should be a red card — come on Referee. I hope next time you can make a better decision.” I didn’t use any vulgar words. However, the Referee wrote in his match report that I pulled his hand and used vulgar words towards him. How can I defend myself when there was no video evidence showing either of these things? I was fined by my football federation. How can I defend myself?
We’re sorry that this occurred and that you feel the punishment you received was not justified. Unfortunately, there is no way we can assist you either generally or in particular. We cannot comment on what goes on in other countries, much less on what is essentially an internal administrative matter. What punishments are assessed after a game is over are outside the scope of the Laws of the Game, particularly where it involves a coach.
What we can say, however, it that you should not have come onto the field “to help [the Referee] to control things” unless you were actually given permission by the Referee to do so. This would be considered a violation of Law 3 if a player had done it and, if done by a team official (which, as an assistant coach, you are), could be the basis for a dismissal from the field for “irresponsible behavior.” It is also the case that having any conversation with members of the officiating team after a match is over — particularly if the conversation goes beyond how nice the weather was — is not a good idea. First, nothing you might say would likely educate the Referee. Second, you might in fact be wrong. Third, even if right, immediately following a difficult, heated match, is not a conducive time for “educating” anyone (I’m sure you would agree were the situations reversed and the Referee wanted to talk to you about your coaching strategy!). We Referees have a saying, “if you don’t want the coach to referee, don’t try to coach the players” and it applies here as well.
Finally, coming onto the field as you did, with the conversation not being documented by film or sound recording, merely sets up a “he said/did, no I didn’t say/do” debate which, on balance, will usually be decided in favor of the Referee. We cannot comment directly regarding your federation but our experience has been that there are almost always channels for filing complaints after the match using official forms and giving everyone a chance to cool down at least a bit. Most such opportunities provide for responses and offers of proof or extenuating circumstances.
While we can’t help in your case, we hope that all team officials will take note of our advice here and respond to similar situations accordingly.