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Question Number: 32186

High School 1/22/2018

RE: High School High School

Trevor of Danville, Kentucky United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32185

In regards to your responses to the first question I asked, let me clarify that this specific incident with the ref was at a regional tournament between two arch rivals: My high school (county school) and the city school in the same county. It wasn't at either of our home fields, but was in a different county entirely on a different high school's field. In that case, who is responsible for asking a fan to leave one of those game? Does this justify the ref's actions? Also in regards to the same ref, with about 10 minutes left in the second half of the game, he ran up to the other team's fans (who were ringing cow bells) and said, 'Look, you guys need to stop with the cow bells right now. That's not me asking; that's the NFHS.' It's tradition for this team to bring cow bells at all sporting events (football, basketball, soccer, etc.) and ring them whenever their team scores. That being said, does the NFHS specify noisemakers of any type and was the ref in the right on either of these instances?

In regards to your responses to the second question I asked, if what you're telling me is true (that underwear colors only matter if they're visible and the refs/coaches have no right to check a player's underwear unless it's visible), and if what my friend has told me is true (that their coaches or refs do check their underwear, regardless of whether it is visible or not, and won't let them play if it's a different color), what can be done about it? This friend of mine and I are really close and I think of him as my brother. I wouldn't want my brother to expose his underwear like that to coaches or refs. And even my girl friend (who used to play soccer) said that if they were required to do that, she would let them, to which I said to her 'What if I didn't want you to?' Personally, I don't believe my freind has a problem with what his coaches and refs are doing, but if what he's telling me is true, what can I, as a fan of high school soccer, do to stop the coaches and refs from doing that?


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Trevor
When games are played on neutral grounds the owners of that ground are responsible for all ground related issues including spectator control and management. The game will have a game manager who is responsible for this.
It seems that the referee in this case seems to have got carried away with his direct involvement with spectators. As we said previously spectator areas are under control of the game manager not the referee. If the referee feel that noisemakers are hindering the administration of the game he could probably stop the clock and request that site management ask the spectators to not use them. Noisemakers are not addressed in the NFHS Soccer Rules. They are however I believe not permitted at regional or state playoff games. So the referee may have been correct. It was how he handled it that was questionable.
As we said previously attire is only of concern if it is visible. That is a check that can be done by looking at a player. There is no need to go beyond that. Now there is a world of difference though between what a coach does and what a referee does. Is this being done by a coach or a referee as facts are important ? No point in trying to sanction a referee for this when it is being done by others.
To lodge a complaint or express a concern regarding game officials or other members of the officials association, coaches and others should work through the athletic director of the school.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Trevor ,
I was having a hard time deciding if your concerns were truly aimed at finding information or pulling my leg? I suppose I will take you at face value that this is an unusual situation but I have never heard or seen a referee pull open a players shorts to peer inside. It sounds utterly ridiculous. I would think sexual harassment if I noticed such a thing! Report any such conduct to local authorities and demand it stop!

As to spectator interference, the referee can request the teams to assist with the problem and if the problem is unresolved the referee has the option to discontinue or abandon the match citing his reasons in the report. This report would include his opinion of whether the team was helpful in trying to diffuse tension or was part of the problem.

There are privately owned pitches with security forces that might be able to intervene but the referee themselves have no power other than state! 'We are not playing until, either the problem goes or is forced to go by others!

Lets be clear here the larger crowd the less likely the referee will target an individual for dissenting. Unless the entire stadium joins in with racist or abusive langue directed towards themselves or the players! I do know of professional matches where the crowds behavior for what they were saying as well as what they did physically, throwing objects or lighting flares has caused referees to close up shop and the team responsible for the unruly fans often pays fines or has matches played in other venues with no crowds.

In cases where a individual or group of dissenters have IN THE OPINION OF THE MATCH REFEREE crossed the lines of civility and he/she feels abused or threatened or considers the players welfare is threatened the right to stop a match and state that either the problem is resolved, quieted or removed is a DUTY a referee has.

One would hope he does not abuse that authority just for spite as neutral observers we should shrug off most of the emotional baggage those watching or playing with have in the or quest for victory. That said, there is no justification for dissenting opinions to develop into ignorant actions, unkind comments, unreasonable attitudes and unaccountability!

To create conditions that frustrate a referee to want to abandon a match, no matter how much your opinion believes otherwise, is a sorry excuse for parent, fan, coach or player to degenerate into a judgmental butt hole rather then simply pass along reasonable critique in a positive frame work rather than as attack dogs!

Yes referees can and do make mistakes, but to compound a possible error in judgement with character assault, verbal intimidation and threats! Even if you choose to see this type of garbage as free speech. NOTHING in life is free, it costs someone or something to stand behind a decision. Concepts like integrity humility, courage, compassion are perceived values that may or may not contain truth but only represent justification of an opinion. Accountability and understanding, that divergent view points are not a lie from one or the other, but shades of perspective, based on the truths we think we know or have faith in or choose to believe!

I have always maintained a match is looked at differently based on the perspective of the individual.
A spectator or parents sees what they think they see!
A player sees what he feels!
A coach see what he wants!
A referee sees what he sees!


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Trevor,
You said in your earlier question that you weren't sure and/or couldn't remember exactly what your friend had told you about the alleged underwear checking, exactly how it was done and by whom. So I would say it's probably worth trying to establish the facts a little more clearly before attempting to pursue this any further.

It is definitely part of the duties of a referee to ensure that the players' equipment complies with the Laws or Rules, however the methodology that you suspect is being used here definitely seems questionable.

As regards spectator behaviour at a tournament, in my experience that is usually the responsibility of the tournament organisers. As ref McHugh has mentioned, it could well be that noisemakers are not permitted by the rules of competition (ROC) although once again, it is preferable that the referee work through the relevant game or competition authorities to resolve such issues. In some large tournaments I have been involved in though, the competition organisers do not always have representatives at every possible game venue so sometimes the responsibility falls more to the referee to try to manage things, even though that is not necessarily the ideal situation.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Every high school game is to have a game manager. If it is a tournament at a neutral site, the tournament director must assign someone to be the game manager. The referee is to be introduced to the game manager before the game starts, and then contact the game manager should a problem exist. The referee should not leave the field to punish a spectator as in your situation.

As to the checking of non-visible underwear, as indicated in my previous answer, this is not done in high school games. Please remember that high school rules differ from international soccer rules.

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