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The Dangerous Reminder About Soccer Referee Assault and Reporting It

Posted by Jason Sholl on November 08, 2016


This past weekend, a third division Brazilian soccer match turned into a violent confrontation between a player and a referee. In the season closer, Boa was two goals up on defending champion, Guarani. Tempers flared at the 60th minute in a challenge with Guarani defender, Beck Guarani Ferreira. The referee judges that a violent elbow was thrown, and issues a red card to Ferreira. 

In a rage, Ferreira steams towards the referee who takes their eyes off the offender. The time between showing the red card and the referee assault take place within the same second, nearly instantaneous. The referee is shoved to the ground and players come to his defense. Ferreira has to be restrained while on the field and throughout his exit from the pitch. 

What can referees learn from the administering of this red card?

1. Players Must Respect the Decision

You have time to make the right decision -- the game has not been restarted. Could the referee have given a yellow card? Was the referee out of position? Was there history prior to this play where Ferreira had been warned or sanctioned for misconduct? The reaction is so instant from Ferreira that there must be some earlier provocation with the referee's decisions. His team is losing 2-0 and wants to defend their reigning championship status. 

Cool the heels of players that are elevating in anger or disagreement. A silent word may gain nothing; make it public and demonstrate there is no toleration for misbehavior. Earn the respect on the field, as this referee had players defending him right away as a result.

2. Discuss in your Pregame

Build in the procedures with your referee team before the match starts. Who comes on the field to help when everything goes crazy? The assistant referee is seen very soon after seeing the referee shoved. What should your fourth official and AR1 do? In all likelihood, observe and report. There may be other incidents outside the danger zone to report and settle. Work as a team and don't leave someone hanging without support.

3. Seek Medical Attention

If there is medical assistance at the field, take the time to seek out treatment. A shove or tackle on the referee is indefensible. You don't have protective gear and you are not expecting physical contact to the body. An on-site medical evaluation assesses if you should continue the match or be replaced, for physical mobility purposes. 

If there is no medical staff at the match, or the injury is serious after leaving the match, contact the assignor to inform them that you will seek medical attention. Drive to a clinic, hospital, or medical professional. 

Having a medical evaluation determines the extent of your injuries and is evidence you can submit with your match report. The player is responsible for their actions against you, and any league assignor, state administrator, or federation representative will respect this call.

4. Report the Referee Assault

Leagues have procedures to follow when physical contact is identified as referee assault. Sometimes this goes up the chain of command to league presidents, state associations, or federations. Identify the proper forms, persons of contact, and be sure to have your story written down. Ask for reports by the other members of the referee team. If there is video, obtain a copy to submit with the report. 

Reports to leagues usually have an immediate turnaround requirement: some 24 hours, some are 48. With a referee assault to report, this timing is critical. Witness stories may change. Some people may call this type of contact as non-violent or state that the referee tripped on their own. Don't embellish the facts and report what you heard, saw, and the aftermath. 

What did we miss? Add your comments below and share with your fellow referees.

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