The Importance of the Referee
A referee for over 40 years, Randy Vogt shares his thoughts on why referees are important — and should be important to you.
Soccer News on Referees: It’s a beautiful day, the field is lined, the goals have nets and are anchored, the two teams are ready to play but there is no match referee.
Without a Ref, the game can’t be played.
So the game cannot be played unless somebody on the touchline agrees to referee the match.
When I first started refereeing four decades ago, the soccer referee shortage in the United States was not as challenging as it is today. This point was graphically brought home to me on an assigning website when I went back to look at the games I was assigned six months before as the website automatically deleted the names of officials who had quit.
Today, there is a shortage of referees.
So whether it was those assigned as my assistant referees or me assigned to be AR at another game with three officials, nearly half the officials were no longer officiating six months later.
Why do referees quit? It is does not take brain surgery to figure out.
Most soccer refs quit in their first two years of officiating nowadays with verbal abuse by the adults in youth soccer, the coaches, and other spectators, being the number one reason for quitting.
Now you might think that this is somehow okay as it’s survival of the fittest and the adults are just yelling at the bad refs, not the good ones, but this is not often the case.
Sadly, the only person at most games who has read the rulebook is the match referee.
I often hear adults yelling in games that I am officiating or just simply watching, making it very obvious that they never opened a rulebook.
- So, to be clear, it’s not necessarily a foul to play the ball while lying on the ground, despite what many spectators believe.
- It’s not always a red card for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when the last defender before the goalkeeper fouls the attacker.
- And all defensive restarts inside the penalty area, not just goal kicks, have to leave the penalty area to be in play, believe it or not.
The lack of knowledge about the rules by the coaches and spectators is most apparent in the youngest age groups. So that’s why it can be easier to referee a college game, at times, than it can be to ref a Boys-Under-8 or Girls-Under-9 game.
Yes, the referee should give a very brief explanation of the rule being enforced when warranted to help the players, coaches and spectators understand what is going on.
I know people who agreed to ref the game when the match official either was not assigned or did not show up. They all said that it was very difficult to ref the game, they would not want to do it again and have a new found appreciation for the job that referees do. And many assigned referees are officiating their sixth, seventh or eighth game of the weekend as the ref shortage in some areas has become so acute.
So as the Fall Season kicks off in youth leagues, can we all agree to be kinder and gentler to the officials?
Because in yelling at the refs, you may be contributing to the soccer ref shortage and the actions of you and the other adults might cause your son’s or daughter’s games to no longer have a ref in the future — and then, you too might have the pleasure of being yelled at.