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Question Number: 31144

Law 5 - The Referee 1/2/2017

RE: Competitive Under 12

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, CA Sacratomato asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31137

I would like to take a minute to thank everyone on the panel for all the hard work on this site. I love presenting scenarios knowing they may arise in the future, which they do. I love being prepared for the difficult plays all thanks to this panel.

About a month ago, in the championship game, I was the AR on the parents side. Parents of Black team were seated right behind me. Towards the end (3 minutes left) of the game, the star player is chasing a long pass and Red keeper gets to the ball first. A couple of parents who were cheering for Black start yelling 'HE CAN'T TOUCH IT, HE CAN'T TOUCH IT!' The goalie flinched, but he picks up ball and punts it away. As GK was punting I hear a parent question the screaming parent about what he saw. The parent who had been yelling started laughing and intimated he was just trying to mess with GK.

Looking to the future, if the GK makes a mistake due to parents meddling, especially when parents are giving tactical instructions, and in this case, right at the end of a championship game, what are the referees options?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
None I am afraid. Knowing the Laws is part of the game so a player getting muddled by spectators shouting has to be dealt with by the player.
Might be unsportsmanlike on behalf of the spectators yet the referee has no option but to allow play to continue. Anyway there are many times when players shout for such situations and goalkeepers make a call on whether to pick up the ball or not based on what transpired.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George while referee no authority over spectators a useful approach is to use the coaches to assist and manage unruly supporters and to consider what is said and its effect, as to the safety of the match. Just not the referee directly but rather indirectly. If there is security present and the comments are racist or foul and abusive such conduct can be challenged as a threat and security personal could be used to intervene.

I have as referee coordinator in tournaments held parents accountable for touchline behavior and threatened them with expulsion if they continued taunting or interfering unfairly. It is expected a certain degree of whining and cat calling can be part of the festivities but when it gets personal and disruptive I have stopped play to remove the disruption or have it quieted before continuing as a referee. As an AR I have warned touchline spectators that if they did not desist in their improper behavior I would bring it to the CR attention as a safety concern.

There is a reason why we do not allow spectators to get in behind the goals in the kids tournaments but fans pay money to be entertained and who are we to interfere? Indiscriminant and random outbursts that are directed towards the players by the touchline supports of one team or the other are part of the experience at a sporting event. UNLESS they run onto the field or go into secured areas or engage in antics that are of a safety concern or I consider as racial and abusive we can pretty much ignore their antics.

Happy New Year Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi George,
In terms of an 'on field' decision when a player is distracted by a spectator there is nothing a referee can do. The Laws of the Game only allow for a referee to take action if an outside agent interferes directly on the field of play, not merely by shouting from outside the field. At higher levels there are tens of thousands of spectators who are constantly yelling at the players, often in a way calculated to distract. Players, especially at this level, usually learn to ignore such antics from the crowd.

However, if the outside interference escalates to the point where it is truly affecting the game, the referee can ask the home team representatives for assistance in managing the spectators' behaviour. If the situation becomes unmanageable, the referee could eventually decide to abandon the match. This should be a last resort and not to be undertaken lightly.

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