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.

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