I was refereeing a U12 rec game with 2 young AR’s (both were 14 yrs old – one boy & one girl). The girl was on the team side and the boy was on the spectator side during the first half. One of the coaches was constantly calling for offside (the players were in offside positions but were not involved in play – so no call, there was one offside that needed to be called and it was) and he was questioning some out of play calls. The girl AR requested to switch sides at halftime and I allowed it. I didn’t want the coach to start to influence her calls and I though the boy would be better able to handle it. About 10 minutes into the second half, the coach noticed the switch and called me over to complain that it was against the rules. I told him it was a rec league and really didn’t matter since their was nothing in the league rules. Is there any official FIFA rule on this? I checked my books after the game and could not find anything.

USSF answer (September 14, 2009):
Ah, those amazing and inventive coaches! The reason you cannot find any reference to switching the location of your assistant referees is that there is nothing in the Laws about it. Nor is there any position paper about it. There is no need for any rule, as the assistant referees are there to ASSIST the referee, who may ask his or her assistants to work on one side in the first half and on the other in the second half. If the circumstances require it, the referee may switch the ARs’ positions at any time during a period of play.

We cannot stress enough that most coaches know little or nothing about the Laws of the Game and how referees are supposed to work. (Note that this does not apply to all coaches; some, even though not referees themselves, know as much as most referees.) One thing many coaches do very well is how to manage the referees and their assistants. A question here, a niggle there. Anything to make the referee or AR upset and to affect their judgment.

The wise referee will nip this activity in the bud by taking the first opportunity to let the coach know, politely and professionally, of course, that such actions will not be tolerated. What is the consequence to the coach for interfering with the game and the officials? A nice seat well away from the field, out of sight and out of hearing.

Leave a Reply