The Rules of Soccer: Game Etiquette Toward Officials

Unlike some sports, soccer gives its officials nearly total discretion over the conduct of the game. With few exceptions, fouls are matters of opinion or judgment, and the rules encourage the referee not to call fouls when doing so would help the offending team. The continuous nature of the game means that it the opinion of the referee — and nobody else — that determines whether a challenge is fair or foul, whether a high kick presents a danger to another player, or whether a particular incident justifies a caution or send-off. And under the Laws of the Game, the referee’s decision on any point is final, and is not to be questioned.

Under the rules, the referee’s authority starts when he arrives at the field of play, and stops only when he leaves. This means that once he shows up, and whatever his age or level of experience, the referee is in command of the field. Incidents occurring before, during, or after the game are within his jurisdiction, and subject to his control. Coaches or players confronting officials after the game have no immunity, and are still liable for any misconduct that the referee decides to punish, even if the game is over.


From the perspective of coaches, players, and spectators, the least understood justification for a caution is probably the offense of “dissent.” The rules provide that participants can be “cautioned and shown the yellow card” for showing “dissent by word or action” from any decision of the referee. This is to make sure that calls are not subject to the endless committee discussions that sometimes interrupt other sports, and that the game resumes as quickly as possible.

Most referees will not punish outbursts of disappointment that fade quickly, and will gladly explain a particular call in response to a polite inquiry. Still, each referee has a different tolerance for griping and, under the Rules, each limit is equally valid. In other words, a coach or player who utters a word of protest at any call by any of the officials may be ignored, admonished, warned, or cautioned, at the referee’s sole discretion. And the permissible level of grumbling for any game depends on that game’s referee, who is well within his authority to punish any showing of disagreement.

In most leagues, coaches are responsible for the behavior of their team’s spectators. This means that a referee whose patience is gone may choose to treat any adverse comments from the sidelines as coming from the coach, and take action against the coach. Or, if he prefers, the referee may simply suspend the game until the offending party leaves. From a practical standpoint, this means that referees may banish anyone, or everyone, from a team’s sidelines. They may refuse to continue the game until everyone dismissed from the field has left — to any distance they specify as a point of retreat. Or, they may simply declare the match abandoned, if the offending parties insist on staying. The rules grant the referee full authority to take whatever action he deems appropriate to maintain or restore order on the field.

Still, despite the wide range of their power and authority, most officials are reluctant to dismiss participants or spectators. They hope to calm emotions rather than inflame them, and do what they can to keep everyone in the game. Forbearance is not a right, however, and coaches need to remind their parents of the need to avoid “riding the refs.” This, in turn, helps keep the sidelines under control, and the players focused on the game.

Dealing with Mistakes

Under the rules, everyone must accept and deal with any decision by the referee during the game. Mistaken or not, the referee is part of the game, and organized soccer regards the referee’s decision on any point of fact as final. This does not mean that you can do nothing to protest the conduct of abusive or inept officials. However, the right way to make a complaint is not by shouting and screaming at the official during the match, but by documenting the incident in writing and filing a report with your soccer club. Your club will review the report and, if appropriate, send it to the proper authorities. Before you do, though, there are a few things you need to know:

First and foremost, formal protests will succeed only if they involve a referee’s mistaken application of the rules — and, even then, only if the mistake had an effect on the outcome of the game. By contrast, informal “protests” can do much to improve the quality of officiating within your club. By bringing mistakes in rules or judgment to the attention of your soccer club, you help educate the referees by alerting their supervisors to officials who need to be monitored more closely, and those who need special help. You also may help identify the rules that are giving your referees particular problem in application. The procedure for making an informal complaint is usually simple: just bring the matter to the attention of the club’s referee coordinator.

The Referee’s Judgment

Judgment calls belong to the Referee: you cannot change them, screaming about them will only get you in trouble, and protesting them will not change the result of any game. In addition, referees cannot see everything, or they may see a particular play differently than you do, and expecting them to call a “perfect game” from your team’s perspective is simply unrealistic. If, however, if your team was the victim of a pattern of favoritism or bias, it may indicate a shortcoming on the part of the official which needs correcting for future games. To document such a pattern, your report should contain a “foul chart,” detailing the official’s discretionary calls: this chart should contain a separate listing for both teams, indicating (whenever possible) the player fouling, the player fouled, the timing of the foul (by minute), and noting in some way whether the resulting free kick was direct, indirect, or a penalty kick. This can be time-consuming and frustrating, and you should also be aware that disparities in calling fouls often reflects nothing more than differences in playing styles: for example, a team relying on its speed and quickness to win the ball may foul less frequently than one relying upon the physical strength of its players; and an aggressive, attacking team will often commit more fouls than one which relies on ball control and finesse. Therefore, your report should acknowledge this, and contain some indication of the styles and playing levels of both teams.

Coaches, parents, and players watch the game with their hearts, and complaints about officials often reflect nothing more than sour grapes. The same referee whom the losing team regards as an idiot may get high praise from the winners. Therefore, any complaint you make about an official should be as objective and unbiased as you can make it.

If you are going to complain about the officiating at your game, make sure that neither you, nor your team, gave the officials any cause for complaint at the field. The surest way to have your complaints ignored is to allow the referee to respond: “They were on my case the entire game, they complained about every call that went against them, and when their coach wouldn’t keep quiet after his first yellow card I finally had to issue a second, just to get some peace and quiet.”

Lastly, it is often tempting for players and parents to blame the officials when a team loses. But coaches who permit or encourage such attitudes should make sure to give the referee all the credit when their team wins.

A Neutral Set of Eyes

Referees do not care who wins or loses. They are there to make sure that nobody wins by cheating. Like the players, they trying their very best. And just like a player will not deliberately try to pass the ball to an opponent, or score on his own goal, no referee will ever make a mistake on purpose.

Soccer is a wonderful sport, and a source of joy for fans and players around the world. But to play the game we need referees to provide a neutral set of eyes to settle the inevitable disputes. It is a game of passion and adventure, and cheering for your team with all your heart is a large part of its appeal. But we must all be careful not to let our enthusiasm turn into hostility toward the officials when things don’t turn out our way. There will always be another day, and another game to play. And like the weather, you may find next week’s referee to be more to your liking.

This does not mean that next week’s referee is better than this week’s, any more than rain is inherently better than sunshine (just ask any farmer). Referees are just a condition of play that both teams must deal with on a given day. But while adapting to wind or rain strikes us as perfectly natural, many of us feel free to howl at the referee when things aren’t going our way. Perhaps it’s because screaming at the referee gives us someone to blame for our troubles…while screaming at the rain would make us feel foolish.

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Eyeclops Infrared Stealth Goggles – Three Games to Play With Your New Goggles

So, you got yourself a pair of Eyeclops Night Vision Goggles for Christmas this year! I bet you’ve already tried them out and seen how they work, but, you’re probably wondering what actual things you can do with them to have fun once the initial wonder at seeing in the dark wears off. Well, here are some games you can try to play out both indoors in your home, and outside in the park or in your yard.

First of all, the classic game of hide and seek is ideal for use of a good pair of night vision goggles. How you actually play the game though, depends both on whether everyone in the group has their own set of goggles or not, and if you’re playing indoors or outdoors. If you’re playing indoors and you only have one set of goggles between you, then what you want to do is have the lights turned on while everyone hides, since this is a lot less dangerous than a bunch of people trying to hide in the dark at the same time. Once everyone is hidden, you turn off the lights and the seeker can seek using the goggles, which is sure to provide an exciting time for everyone. Now, if everyone has their own goggles, hide and seek can be even more fun since you can actually do the hiding and everything in the dark already! Plus for a bonus, you can allow people to move around after the seeker has already started to look for you, bringing a whole new level of strategy, sneaking and stealth into the game.

Another game to try, and incidentally one that is very appropriate around October and November for Halloween, is haunted house. What you do is simply one person has the goggles and is in charge of rounding up several icky-to-the-touch ingredients like grapes, pasta, kiwis, etc. Then in a completely dark room, the person that has the goggles simply leads the others around and directs them to feel each thing, describing gruesome imaginary depictions of what it is that the other players are feeling. This is exciting for the regular players and also funny for the goggle wearer since he can actually se what everything is and also watch the expressions on their faces!

Finally, and this particular game might be reserved for adults only (and we know that more than a few adults are going to be getting their own night vision goggles anyway), we have night paintball. This game of course needs to be played outside, in a park or in a large yard. It’s even better if you find a park which has a lot of trees, shrubbery and places to hide around in it. Basically, play just like you would normal paintball except that there will be about 10 minutes at the beginning for everybody to have a chance to find a good place to hide, taking full advantage of the dark. When this ‘grace’ period is over, the game officially begins, everybody turns on their goggles and the fun begins.

These are but a very few ideas of things you can do with your new infrared goggles. Obviously as you get used to using them and taking advantage of them you and your friends will come up with many more new things to try. The important thing is to always be safe but have fun at the same time.

Have a safe and happy christmas by becoming informed on every gift you buy this year! Simon Schwartz gives free advice and reviews on almost every worthwhile christmas toy for 2008 at his website on Top Christmas Gifts for Children []. To read more about the goggles in this article, go to Eyeclops Night Vision

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