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: 32745

Law 5 - The Referee 9/25/2018

RE: Competitive Under 15

Matt of Hubbard, Oregon USA asks...

So this happened to my son who is 15 YOA and a referee but I was there to observe the incident.

He is working a tournament as the Center for a U12 game. He is assigned to 'field #2' and believes he has arrived. Unknown to him at the time, he's on the wrong field. But he introduces himself to the coaches, notices the teams are warming up, and lets them know in about 10 minutes he'll call them over for inspection and check-in. He is in uniform, standing about the center line checking out the pitch when he sees two players from the same team get in a full out fist fight on the pitch in front of the goal they had been warming up by. They are punching each other in the face, calling each other mother this and that, pulling hair, kicking each other etc. This is an extreme comotion and parents and coaches run over and break the fight up. My son then realizes he is on the wrong pitch but the correct referee is not there. Can he issue red cards for violent conduct?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
Interesting question
I would say that the technical answer is no as he is not the referee assigned to the game and therefore has no authority for that game. He had witnessed violent conduct and if he was the referee he could prevent the players from playing and reporting them for violent conduct misconduct.
However he is not the referee assigned to the game and he is therefore technically just an observer with no powers attached to the game. In many ways you saw the incident as well and technically while a referee yourself you were in the same position as your son. I might ask this question. Could a decision have been made to change the assigned referee.
Let me pose this. I spoke to a referee at the weekend who witnessed VC during a game which happened unseen and behind the match referees back. As the referee did not see it no action could be taken by the spectating referee. He told him about it after the game yet no action was or could be taken.
In your example it would have been possible for your son to speak with the *referee* to inform him what he saw and perhaps the *referee* might ask the team coaches to deal with the offenders by way of natural justice of preventing the players from participating in the game. One would like to think that the teams own discipline procedures would deal with such misconduct. It is not always the referees responsibility only.
I might pose another scenario. Say the misconduct happened in the changing rooms seen only by the team and it was recounted to a referee afterwards by a player what action could be taken? Certainly nothing from a game situation could be done and I would include a comment in the match report of what was said and leave it to the authorities to deal with it.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Matt,
As far as I can tell, a referee has no authority to issue cards for a game he is not assigned to. As ref McHugh mentions, he could inform the actual referee for the game, who might in turn talk to the coaches. I think he could also report the incident to the tournament organisers though again, whether they would or could take any action is a little difficult to say.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32745
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

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.