Friday, July 31, 2009

Week in Review - Week 19

The latest version of Week in Review is available for viewing on You should read up on the full article if you haven't already by clicking here.

While reading up on the events I was drawn to the section on Dissent. For most of us the Fall season is looming ahead. That presents a new, fresh start for many teams. We will be doing a wide variety of matches from youth up to collegiate levels; many with a high level of intensity. Players and coaches are under a lot of pressure to perform so, occasionally, emotional outburst will occur. How to do we handle them? Here are some tips from the article to gauge these situations and deal with them accordingly. The time to set the tone is early on!


Dissent: More than an Emotional Outburst

The 2009 U.S. Soccer Referee Directive entitled "Dissent" outlines several important factors for officials to consider when deciding whether comments/actions from players or non-playing personnel require official sanction or action. There is a spectrum of potential actions and each requires a different response by the referee. Actions can range from “emotional outburst to dissent to offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures.”

Emotional Outburst: Verbal Admonition
Usually a one time factor. It is said and over. Normally, not specifically directed at an individual. A brief, quick reaction to an incident.

Referee Response: Attempt to manage with personality and presence. Send a strong verbal and visual message to the player.

Dissent: Yellow Card
Use the “personal, public and provocative” criteria provided in the "Dissent" directive to determine whether the comments and/or actions were disrespectful to “any referee.” Normally, words, tone, body language and facial expressions which demonstrate a negative and condescending attitude toward a match official. The actions are usually more extended in nature and persistent than those used in an “emotional outburst.” Consider gestures, directed at an official, that show disgust or disrespect. Look for aggressiveness directed at an official.

Offensive, Insulting or Abusive Language and/or Gestures: Red Card
Considering the “personal, public and provocative” criteria, the referee must judge the severity of the actions (verbal and non-verbal). The more aggressive or directed the action, the further up the scale (toward a red card) the referee must consider. Each situation and its context within the game must be addressed and evaluated individually using the “personal, public and provocative” criteria. However, if a player’s or non-playing personnel’s actions exceed the boundaries of the “personal, public and provocative” standards, the player must be sent off or the non-player dismissed.


You can see that we have methods to handle Dissent that don't start with a Caution. Also think how the severity of the player's or coach's reaction compares to the intensity of the situation. A strong reaction may be acceptable during, say, a penalty kick. The same outburst is not acceptable when debating a decision of who gets the throw-in at midfield. Try to keep a level head when dealing with emotional situations to show your control.

As a side note if you have issues viewing the videos on the Week in Review due to the small frame size, you can download the videos to your computer using the newest version of Real Player (download here). During the setup process ensure that you leave the box checked regarding the "download" link in browser windows. Once the program is installed you will then see a Download to RealPlayer link near the US Soccer videos. Once downloaded the videos can be played through RealPlayer and a fullscreen option will be available. Not the best quality, but certainly easy to to see.

Note: Download programs at your own risk! I am not responsible for anything that results from the download and use of any program.

Some of the preceding content is from US Soccer and is subject their Terms and Conditions viewable on

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Training While Commuting

Steve Schafer, DRA
Albuquerque - East

Off the Pitch - Bicycling

I ride bicycles a lot. It’s a great way to keep you in shape to referee. The following are some ideas on how to incorporate bicycling into your referee fitness plan.

Commuting on a bike kills two birds with one stone. You get to work and home, plus get a workout during a time you would normally be sitting in a car. You save gas money and lower your stress level by not fighting rush hour traffic. It takes some planning on your part. Planning a route that is bike friendly is the first step (the city has bicycle route maps or I can help). I pack my work clothes and lunch in a backpack, wear weather appropriate cycling clothing (more in the winter, less in the summer), and leave earlier to get to work on time. I really like my end of the day commute as it gives me a chance to unwind from work stress.

I recommend mountain bikes for first time riders. They position you upright and the fatter tires give a more comfortable ride. Put ‘slime’ (liquid stop leak) in the tubes and mountain bikes are almost maintenance free. While you can ride a mountain bike on paved roads, I really enjoy them on the dirt. Mountain bikes make me feel like a kid again, taking jumps and skidding in the dirt. Albuquerque has some great off road trails to ride along the foothills or along the river paths.

Road bicycles are about going fast. Your position is bent over the handlebars (more aerodynamic) with skinny, high pressure tires (less rolling resistance) underneath. If you ride a road bike, you need to carry all the equipment (spare tube, tire levers, and pump) to fix a flat tire and know how to use the equipment. Albuquerque has some great roads to ride on (Tramway, Chelwood, Morris, Moon, Constitution, Comanche, etc.) and some roads to avoid (Juan Tabo, Eubank, Wyoming, Central, Lomas, Menual, Montgomery) on a bike. For a training ride when you have more time, the east mountain area has many quality riding roads.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Hopefully you were able to catch the classic rivalry of Chivas USA vs. Galaxy or, like me, recorded it and watched it later. As I was watching it I put myself in the referee's shoes. You know coming into that match that it's going to be a tough fought match and has the potential to blow up on you. We've probably been in a game like that before. Sometimes I think it is harder to handle a game that you know is going to be hard because you can get overly nervous thinking about the game and make mistakes.

So what do you do? Well if you watched Ricardo, a FIFA referee, in this game he chose to set the tone early on. I was impressed by his communication with the players; especially when I saw his "use your head" gesture early in the match. I could tell the player understood and it was a beautiful way to get a message across to not only the player involved but the whole field. I was so happy to see that US Soccer highlighted that moment in the Week in Review. Make sure to click here to read the whole article.

But you don't have to have that big white badge on your shirt in order to be able to effectively communicate with players. Visual gestures, your voice and body language help you control players during the game. Using these tools properly mean you rely less on your whistle and more on your personality to achieve game control. As we have been saying more game control means you can have more flow through risk taking. Overall this means a smoother game for you, more fun for the players and more entertainment for the fans.

All three of those guys watching your summer league game from the park bench will thank you!

Friday, July 10, 2009


If you are not getting the monthly NMSRA Newsletter and would like to sign up please click this link:

NMSRA Newsletter Registration Form

Also, spread the word to your fellow referees! If someone you know would like to sign up you can give them the address or have them contact me by clicking here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Match Report Writing

Bob Linebaugh, Chair of the State Referee Committee, gives us a great "How To" article on the necessary elements of report writing.

Nobody likes paperwork. But sometimes it is inevitable, especially when a team official is dismissed; a red card is issued to send-off a player; or for referee abuse/assault. It is not only important that you promptly and properly complete the paperwork, it is required. It's part of the referee’s job.

The following information is furnished because it is important and needed to mete out discipline. One of the frustrating things for those involved when it comes to deciding disciplinary action is send-off reports that are poorly written, and don't provide the complete and accurate information needed.

You are to complete and forward to the appropriate authority a report of any send-off you have in a match within 48 hours of the incident. When you are involved with a tournament, you need to complete the report as soon as the match is completed, if possible. Not only is timeliness important for administrative purposes, but the sooner you complete the report after the incident, the better your memory is of the specifics.

Who are the "appropriate authorities"? In New Mexico if it is for referee assault/abuse it is the SRA. First let us define referee assault and or abuse by citing the USSF Policy Manual.

Policy 531-9 -- Misconduct toward Game Officials

(3) (a)(i) Referee assault is an intentional act of physical violence at or upon a referee.

    (ii) For purposes of this policy, “intentional act” shall mean an act intended to bring about a result which will invade the interests of another in a way that is socially unacceptable. Unintended consequences of the act are irrelevant.

(b) Assault includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed

    upon a referee: hitting, kicking, punching, choking, spitting on, grabbing or bodily running into a referee; head butting; the act of kicking or throwing any object at a referee that could inflict injury; damaging the referee’s uniform or personal property, i.e. car, equipment, etc.

(4) (a) Referee abuse is a verbal statement or physical act not resulting in bodily

    contact which implies or threatens physical harm to a referee or the referee’s property or equipment.

(b) Abuse includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee:

    using foul or abusive language toward a referee that implies or threatens physical harm; spewing any beverage on a referee’s personal property; or spitting at (but not on) the referee.

For a send-off of a player or the dismissal of a coach, know the reason for send-off as dictated by Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. Know the seven reasons for a send-off. Know the difference between Serious Foul Play, and Violent conduct. Use the "Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game" (ATR) and the USSF’s directives by referencing and/or citing them in your report. You can also turn to the "7+7" document for a concise list of offenses for which players can be cautioned or sent-off for. You should print and/or save this document for when you are writing a report (find it by clicking here). A coach or team official cannot be "sent-off", per say, but rather is dismissed for "irresponsible behavior." You would then need to define this behavior in the match report in a way that is easily understood.

On to the report. Very specific information is needed in a complete and accurate report.


Date/Time of match.


League or Tournament

Level of competition


Team Coaches Names

Name of Center Referee

Name of AR 1

Name of AR2

Name of 4th Official

Time of Foul

Name of Player receiving Red Card and that player’s Jersey number.

Reason for Send-off listed under Law 12 of the Laws of the Game.

The final and most important part of the report is the "Explanation" of the situation that created the need for a send-off. What you need to do is paint a picture, with as much as detail as possible, with your words of why the player was sent-off. You need to include when the event occurred, who was involved, how the violation took place, and what was the aftermath of the occurrence. The Disciplinary Committee relies on the information you provide to determine how many games the player will be suspended. If you give the Committee little or no information to go on, then they will be forced to minimize the suspension.

It is not your job to recommend how many games you think the player should be suspended or to decide if it was referee abuse, or assault. Never indicate your opinion on this matter when you complete a report. If you feel as though the send-off was for a particularly egregious foul, for example, make sure the Committee knows what happened in detail and let the process take its course. Simply just give the facts.

Here's a sample of what should be included in an explanation on a referee's report. We don't have space to give you samples of every type of send-off. But make sure that every report you write contains the key elements that are within the following:

"In the 79thminute of play, the Red team was building an attack near midfield. Red player #19 was in possession of the ball at his feet and was looking downfield to distribute the ball. As he was doing so, Blue player #7 (Bob Martinez) tackled Red #19 from behind using excessive force, with cleats up, making forceful contact with the player's calf and clearly endangering the safety of the opponent. Play was stopped, and the trainer for the Red team was called onto the field to treat #19. Mr. Martinez was shown the red card and sent-off for Serious Foul Play (Law 12). Mr. Martinez did not leave the field of play immediately. Rather, he remained on the field for thirty to forty seconds, haranguing the referee concerning the red card. After being restrained by his teammates, he did finally leave the field without further incident. Red player #19 was assisted from the field with an apparent injury to his left calf. After a substitute entered the field to replace the injured player, play was restarted with a direct free kick for the Red team at the spot of the foul. The score was 2-1 in favor of the home team at this time."

Are you able to visualize the event after reading this explanation? That is the purpose of the report, and should be your goal every time you have to issue a send-off. Also, if there is offensive, insulting or abusive language involved in your send-off or referee abuse, you need to specifically spell out what language was used and to whom it was directed. This, again, is important to the disciplinary committee. Include necessary information but avoid unnecessary details ('twas a warm summer day in NM, there were puffy white clouds...)

None of us enjoy sending off players or dismissing coaches. But when you do, it is very important that they be dealt with appropriately and that his or her punishment is commensurate with the type and nature of the offense. Do not leave a problem on the field that will come to haunt the next referee because you did not deal with it! That's why we have reports and disciplinary committees. And it is your job as a referee to do the best job possible in completing those reports. MAKE SURE THAT WHAT YOU WRITE IS LEGIBLE!!! None of this will matter if the committee can't read your writing. If you can type up the document that's even better!

If you have questions now or in the future when you are writing a report please reach out for assistance from a fellow referee or member of the SRC.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

FWR 2010: A How-To Guide

The big thing I'm trying to do with this blog (and the newsletter) is to improve communication. It has been brought to my attention that some people find the selection process for Regionals to be incongruous with other processes in refereeing. For example, the criteria to upgrade from Grade 8 to 7 is clearly listed on the website. Conversely, where can you find the details on how to get selected for FWR?

This is a fair argument and it got me thinking about how to correct this. What better venue than the blog and newsletter? So here in plain text is the process that I go through in making the decision of who is selected for Regionals each year. With that knowledge you can know what to expect if you "throw your hat in the ring" next time around.

  1. Each year there is a Region IV planning meeting. At this meeting it is decided how many referees each State will bring to the tournament. This usually occurs in October leaving several months for the SYRA to plan on who to bring.
  2. Once I have the number in mind I begin to build a list of potential referees. Some of these referees have emailed me their interest ahead of time. Others are referees that are "up and coming" and have been brought to my attention by other referees.
  3. Of the available slots (this year we had 10) two are taken by the Female and Male Youth Referee of the Year candidates. Another slot is taken by your SYRA.
  4. From there the final slots are slowly but surely filled. Usually two or three referees are on a standby list, just in case someone can't make it. Regionals is a big commitment; you must attend meetings, group runs and spend a week of your summer doing games for free. I require a lot of work out of this group.
  5. Although there are no formal requirements, generally we will only take two or three "rookies" to Regionals each year. Priority goes to the younger referees as a general rule, but I can't take Grade 9's.
  6. The list of referees are not just randomly picked by me. The State Referee Committee is involved. I take feedback from Assessors. I pay attention who attends the meetings and yearly clinic. I go and watch possible candidates do games. I email each DRA for feedback on who they think should go.
The most important thing is to let me know you are interested. Although I ask for input from the DRA's for a variety of reasons I don't always hear back. If you want to go to Regionals there is no reason you can't just let me know directly. That ensures that I know your interest right away. Don't be discouraged if you don't end up on the list this year. Keep working hard and it will pay off. So now is the time to start. If you want to go next year please email me for details. NM is hosting FWR next year so we should have more slots open. And keep up the hard work!

Off the Pitch

Steve Schafer, a State Referee and DRA, gives us some advice on how we can stay fit and healthy off the pitch.

My plan is to give you a monthly dose of ideas for doing things off the soccer field to develop/maintain your soccer referee fitness level. Orion is doing a great job leading weekly workouts on Wednesdays (e mail Orion at Here are some additional workout ideas.

So what do you do when you are not refereeing soccer to maintain fitness? If your answer is 12 ounce curls and eating for two, disaster will strike before you know it. Your body will rebel if you go hard Saturday and Sunday, and don’t do anything for fitness the rest of the week.

My latest discovery is Bikram’s Yoga on Juan Tabo ( A Bikram’s yoga class lasts 90 minutes in a room at 105 degrees F and 40% humidity. The 26 posses help strengthen and stretch your muscles while also helping your breathing. Class sessions are offered in the morning, noon and evenings (see the website for schedules). I have found a weekly yoga session has eliminated all the little injuries I use to get from refereeing. Bring in a copy of this newsletter, and Bikram’s Yoga will give you half off the introductory special ($10 instead of $20).

Let me know if you have any questions! You can click here to send me an email.

~Steve Schafer