Hypothetical situation:

A U14 Girls game is scheduled to start at 6 pm and it will be dark not too long after 7:30 pm. It has been raining for quite some time. There are T-storms in the area but no visible lightning. The radar shows that the rain will continue through at least part of the game.

The league rule is that once at the field, it is the referee’s decision regarding unsafe playing conditions and if the game should be postponed.

During warm-ups, both coaches talk to each other and both approach the main referee and share that they both have concerns for their players’ safety and ask the referee to postpone the game.

Should the referee honor this request even if he/she isn’t convinced that unsafe playing conditions exist?

If I understand the reasoning for giving the referee the ability to postpone a game correctly, it is because 1. he/she is impartial and can either decide to play or not if the coaches disagree on playing conditions or 2. to protect the players if both coaches are insisting the game be played.

But I am not sure if a referee’s discretion should trump a situation where both coaches agree that unsafe conditions exist.

In other words, if the 2 coaches agree that unsafe conditions exist, should that be enough to get the game postponed? Being youth soccer, shouldn’t player safety be first and that it is better to err on the side of caution?

If there are any published guidelines on this type of situation, please let me know where I can find them.

USSF answer (June 6, 2011):
The Spirit of the Laws should be clear enough for everyone and at every level of play: The safety of the players comes before anything else. However, once he or she has arrived at the field, only the referee has the right to declare a game suspended, abandoned, or terminated.

In addition, nothing in the Laws of the Game gives the referee the authority to “postpone” a game. The referee deals only with the case at hand, not any rescheduling issues.