Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 31862

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/4/2017

RE: Other

Steven of Portland, OR usa asks...

How big of a problem is it that I don't really care about people dissenting my opinion?

As long as I have been a ref (10 years), I have never listened to dissent. Whether I am an assistant referee or the center, I completely ignore dissent from spectators (usually parents), coaches, even players towards me and don't care at all about it. In fact, I almost completely refrain from talking at all to spectators or coaches on the sideline period.

The only time I ever address dissent is if the offender uses explicit profanity (have directly sent off a handful of players and coaches for getting so aggravated with me ignoring their rants that the f-word, etc slips out, or had a coach make a parent leave who did this) or if the person is directly attacking one of my assistants, especially if it is a younger referee.

I feel like referees in any sport who go over the top to punish people who criticize their performance are what make referees get a bad name. As a referee, I know I am going to get verbal abuse pretty much every game even if I do a great job, and I feel like it's just something to deal with as part of the job.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Steven,
it is the trademark of any good referee to develop the turtle shell, rhino hide or water off a ducks back approach to dissent or mild disrespect /irritation.
As you say some stuff is simply sour grapes and not worth the time to get annoyed.

HOWEVER , dissent can also be verbal or body language clues that's something is going on in behind play or that you have not twigged onto or missed. .

You certainly do not want to go postal (sorry letter carriers) on trifling crabbiness and you are 100% correct to deal with the flashpoint stuff of ARs being hassled or coaches not living up to their responsibility status to protect and create a SAFE environment.

Just be aware that if you have been on top of things and out of the blue #12 red just hammers #15 blue and as you show the card wondering why? Not realizing the recent griping was about the sneaky off the ball cut outs not being dealt with ,you may have contributed to this incident by ignoring hey ref watch the off the ball stuff . It is in the accumulation of escalating dissent that can cause issues keep your finger on the pulse of the match ABUSE never accept but dissent can be a snowball at first but after rolling down a very long hill it can become a much bigger issue


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steven,
I would agree in almost all instances, with ignoring critical remarks from spectators and parents. You can probably ignore quite a lot of what comes from coaches a lot of the time as well.

But I don't agree with ignoring it completely from coaches and definitely not from players. OK, a certain amount of crabbiness from players/coaches is to be expected and can be tuned out if it doesn't go too far but real dissent can easily affect your match control, especially if you allow it to continue unchecked and it gets out of hand. If one team starts dissenting, the other side is likely to follow suit, on the principle that 'it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease' and once you have two sets of players yelling and screaming after every decision to try to get it to go their way, tempers rise and it can easily lead to conflicts between players.

Excessive dissent (which will tend to develop if you let everything go by) will also disrupt the flow of the game with frequent delays while the players sound off either at you or at each other, which can also lead to frustration. Any time you have increased levels of frustration and heightened tempers, you will have more offences to deal with. In summary, as I said earlier, if you ignore dissent completely, you run the risk of your match control going out the window.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
As you know refereeing is mostly a very thankless task. When a referee travels to a game, their destination sometimes is akin to managing a WWF event. The referee who may be on his own surrounded by 22 passionate players, 6 or more substitutes, managers, coaches, and spectators. The referees role and responsibilities at the lower levels can be very daunting. This job is certainly not for the faint hearted nor the thin skinned.
Contrary to popular belief, referees are human. When they arrive at a ground they like to be sociable, yet at the same time, they must not be seen to favour a particular team. Experience has taught referees that no matter how friendly they are, it only takes one incident in the game to turn pleasant everyday people into what can best be described as idiots out of control.
Soccer is still a very emotive physical contact sport and it provokes passion and emotions that lead to heightened excitement. We all see what we want to see and most times the referee is the focus of that ire when something happens that is not agreed with.
Understanding what is excitement and an appeal for a call and what is dissent is very much in the eye of the beholder or more likely the ear of the hearer. What can be opined as dissent by one person can be considered not so by another. We all have our own sense of values, which are shaped by our life experiences.
Now I agree that many times ignoring shouting can be the best approach. The shouting is to illicit a response and if it is ignored it sometimes can pass or they get the message that they wasting their breath. The difficulty arises that when the *dissent* increases and it start to affect the game. Players can easily decide that here is a referee that is not going to take action or a refeeee that does not care, does not want to take any action so everything is fair game.
That is not a good place to be and the referee has to understand what is an insidious creeping problem of dissent that can erupt into serious foul play or violent conduct and what is appeals for decisions.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31862
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 31867

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.