I have two different variations of the same question that occurred this weekend in a U16 boys match:
1. My AR was standing near the center line and heard a player on the bench farther away from him say “[CENSORED]” after his team scored a goal. Is the proper response that he brings it to my (center) attention before restart and if he knows which player it is I red card the player for Violent Conduct or offensive language?
2. Same as above but it is the opposing coach who hears the same words and reports to the AR closest to him what was said and by whom?
USSF answer (September 15, 2008):
1. When deciding what to do about either dissent or the use of offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures, the referee must analyze the situation and apply The Three Ps. Was the language Personal? (I. e., directed at someone in particular.) Was the language Public? (I. e., was it loud enough to be heard by others on the field and in its vicinity?) Was the language Provocative? (I. e., could it have led to player management problems involving the other team.) If the answer to these questions is yes, then the matter must be dealt with by the referee and the nearest official to the referee must make sure that he or she learns of it as quickly as possible. (Violent conduct would not apply to either of your situations.)
In this particular case, if the AR can reliably identify the “player” in the bench area who would have to be sent off for using offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures and shown the red card, with full details included in the referee’s match report.
2. The referee cannot take any action (except perhaps a general “talking to” in the direction of the bench) based solely on the word of anyone other than a member of the officiating team.