Is there a penalty, sanction or otherwise for a referee who files an inaccurate game report for the benefit of lowering the league penalties on the teams and players?
I witnessed an adult amateur game prior to my assignment as an incident between 2 players escalated into violent conduct. Both players were sent off by the referee. After the match, the players were seen “negotiating” a lessor card so the penalty from the league would not be so harsh. The referee reported Serious Foul Play instead on the game report.
USSF answer (February 2, 2009):
Although you have reported what you saw and heard, we feel we should at least lay out why the scenario you describe might perhaps not be as compelling as you have stated.
For example, even if events are exactly as you described, is this really misconduct? There is no indication that the referee was bribed or coerced. Were the referee to have decided not to report the card at all, to report it as a caution instead of a sending off, or to have identified a different player than the one actually shown the red card, this would clearly constitute reportable behavior. But the referee seems only to have changed the reason for the send-off.
Suppose though that the final report did not involve a change at all. You have characterized the original behavior as “violent conduct,” but how do you know that the referee at the time so characterized it?
Even if he did consider it violent conduct at the time, is the referee not allowed to reflect upon the specific circumstances, filtered by time and possible additional information, before writing his report? Suppose additional information came from an AR. Would you then argue that this makes it okay, but that being persuaded by information coming from anyone else is misconduct? Your use of the term “negotiating” is loaded — from a distance, “remonstrating” might be just as accurate. And how do you know why (or even IF) the referee made the change? Players informing the referee of the dire consequences of a card for VC could have simply been justification for the referee deciding to think more carefully about what was seen and done before preparing a final report.
However, if you are utterly convinced that the referee has indeed committed misconduct in the matter of the report, you have the right and the duty to lodge a complaint. Under the USSF Policy Manual 2008-2009, a person who accuses a referee or other game official of misconduct for actions during or away from a match should file a complaint in accordance with the Policy Manual. In a case such as this, Policy 531-10–Misconduct of Game Officials applies:
Section 2. Procedures
(A) Misconduct at a Match
When any game official is accused of having committed misconduct toward another game official, participant, or spectator at a match, or of having a conflict of interest, the original jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter shall vest immediately in the State Association or Organization Member through which the accused game official is registered. In the situation where Amateur and Youth State Associations exist in a state, and the incident of alleged misconduct occurred at a match sanctioned by one State Association, jurisdiction shall vest with the State Association sanctioning the match in question.
(B) Misconduct Away From a Match
When any game official, referee, referee assistant or referee development program person is accused of unethical conduct, misuse or abuse of authority or conflict of interest in any matter in the pursuit of or may affect the individual’s official dealings within and as authorized by the Federation, its Divisions, Affiliates or Associates, a State Associations or Organization Member, or a competition, tournament or other appropriate authority, the matter shall vest immediately in the State Association through which the accused game official is registered or through which the referee development program person is appointed.
(C) Any allegation of misconduct or of conflict of interest by a game official as described by subsection (A) of this section, or of unethical conduct, misuse or abuse of authority or conflict of interest as described by subsection (B) of this section, shall be made in writing to the State Referee Administrator or to the State Association(s) or Organization Member that shall report all such allegations including any allegations against the State Referee Administrator, to the State Association(s) or Organization Members through which the accused game official is registered or through which the accused referee development program person is appointed.
(D) Upon receipt by the appropriate Organization Member of a verified written complaint, a hearing shall be conducted within 30 days from verification pursuant to guidelines established by the Organization Member having jurisdiction as provided by subsection (A) or (B) of this section. The guidelines may include referring the complaint to the State Referee Committee for the hearing. The hearings and appeal process shall provide for adequate due process for the accused person including proper notice of charges, the right to bring witnesses in defense, and the right to confront and to cross-examine the accusers.
(E) The Chairman of the hearing committee shall transmit the findings of the committee in writing to all parties concerned including the accused and the accusers and to the State Association(s) or Organization Member within seven days of the hearing.
(F) Any party subject to penalties shall receive, at the time of notification of the decision, a notice of the rights of appeal and a copy of the procedures and deadline dates required for such an appeal to be properly considered. Time for filing an appeal shall start with the date official receipt of the decision by the party making the appeal.