At a U15 Girls match this weekend, the game seemed to go without too much incident and not too many insults to the officiating crew.

It was IMMEDIATELY after the game that the situation eroded. The game was played on an outlying field that was away from the rest of the tournament and apparently no “field marshals” were assigned to the game.

Towards the end of the game, one of the parents from the team who was loosing positioned himself with the parents of the winning team.

Immediately after the game, he began to “start trouble” by provoking arguments with the winning team. The situation was volatile, but after a few minutes the winning parents seemed to leave the area before the incident could get out of control.

I have been taught that the referee is in charge of the game, technical area, the players and SPECTATORS from the time the referees arrive on the pitch until they depart (even before and after the game). I know exactly how to handle this DURING the game, but this was after the game had technically ended and while the referee crew was still on the pitch. (There were less than 50 spectators — of which only about 10-15 were involved)

It seems to me that a few well-placed words from the referee could have ended the situation rather quickly.

My question is, since there are NO other unbiased officials of the tournament, does the referee have any authority under the “laws of the game” to “persuade” the spectators that it is not in their best interest to continue their arguments.

Should I, as THE referee, get involved on a MORAL ground just to try to stop the situation from escalating? Obviously, I am not going to step into a fist-fight, but should I, as a 40-year old adult, step in to prevent the “arguing” that could lead to something stupid?

USSF answer (October 11, 2011):
The Laws ask only that the referee deal with situations in which someone unauthorized enters the field, in which case the referee should suspend play and perhaps terminate the game if the situation cannot be handled by the appropriate authorities. Unless there is some rule of the tournament that permits you to deal with spectators or anyone other than team officials, you have no authority to deal with such persons at any time, whether before, during, or after the game, unless there is some question of player safety off the field. Your job is to ensure that the players are safe, not Mom or Dad.