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Question Number: 32709

Other 9/15/2018

RE: Rec Under 8

Michael gruden of Irvine, CA United States asks...

Can a coach ask a assistant ref a question? Also if the coach asks the ref a question can a center ref eject the coach? Thanks

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
There is no issue in communicating with referees and assistants provided it is done at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner. Many match officials know that when they are approached in a questioning manner it is rarely done in a calm or respectful manner. When it is done respectfully match official normally respond appropriately.
During play it is not really possible for coaches to ask a question as match officials are focusing on the game. Players ask questions all the time and generally get a response. During a lull in play it may be possible for a coach to engage with the assistant referee on the technical area side yet that depends very much on the AR. It is one of the Eason why the role of 4th official was created and we see coaches all the time speaking with 4th officials. Usually if a coach is shouting about a call from a distance at the referee that is not acting in a responsible manner which can result in the coach getting ejected. Many times there is a warning to desist in that conduct which goes unheeded.
After the game can be a difficult time with emotions running high. Many referees ask the coach to come to them after teams have showered etc and matters have calmed.
Also I find that when a question has to be asked it is generally about a call / non call during the game. In my game last weekend I was asked by a player why I did not give a penalty on a particular incident. The question was not about really seeking an answer as the player had his opinion and he was more intent on challenging me about the non call rather than listening to any explanation that I proffered. I have rarely ever been asked about a point of law in such situations.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Michael,
Coaches can indeed ask questions and referees can indeed expel coaches.
The case being one does not exclude the other. You see communication during a match is not the worst thing in the world. Most officials will respond to a reasonable question at a reasonable time but if the question is more in the lines of a dispute or dissent, if it sarcastically phrased, personalized, provocative & public it can be considered a form of abuse and unreasonable behaviour by coaches is punished . We generally ask a Coach if in OUR opinion, he overstepping to please back off, if we tell him that is enough as a warning as a second time, should we require a 3rd time it likely the coach is on his way to the parking lot. I explain VERY clearly in the pregame my ARS are 100% off-limits to ANY form of abuse or interference in their duties and IF there is an issue the captain is to bring it to my attention the ARs are not to be bothered in the performance of their duties. Now we will not get bent if a ball sails a mile wide and during the time to retrieve it someone asks the AR an innocent question but if it involves defending a call they happen to not like there is no guarantee it will receive more than a point over to me to as the one to ask .
We also realize as neutral observers we do have an impact on a the emotional status of a competitive match. We do not try to be arrogant or demeaning but we have a job and a duty to both the spirit and LOTG to do what we think is necessary to regulate a match & consider the safety of its participants. Ourselves included by the way.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Michael,
The one-word answer to both questions is 'yes.' However, as my colleagues have pointed out, there are lots of caveats to that simple answer. Why, when and how was the question asked? Was it a purely innocent question, asked in a calm and respectful manner at an appropriate time or was it an aggressive, abusive interrogatory (or something in between)? Depending on those factors a question could vary along a spectrum from being perfectly OK, to being behaviour worthy of a dismissal.

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