Advice for 'ALL' Football/Soccer Referees
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society
" Maintaining his authority...,
even when all those around him are maiming his authority IS the Referee's…
MAIN DUTY. "
2. So exactly what is violence against Referees?
3. A wise Referee makes his own decisions:
4. Knowing the Laws:
5. Keeping up with play:
6. During Play:
7. Trouble with Team Officials:
8. Once the Game has finished:
9. List of what Referees should do if they are assaulted:
The majority of Referees who officiate at 'grass roots' level are not
accompanied to games, and neither are they provided with any form of
protection. It is therefore vitally important that Referees minimize the
risk of being assaulted. There are a number of recommendations that a
Referee can consider to minimize the chances of violence being committed
against them. Although some of this advice may seem excessive, Referees
should not feel paranoid about the way they go about their business
........The advice is here for Referees to carefully consider those
recommendations that suit their own personality. There is no
'fool-proof' method for eliminating violence against Referees completely
- nevertheless, the main duty of anyone is to protect them from
aggression. There are many situations when a Referee may 'himself'
develop (or foolishly get involved in) confrontation that will actually
instigate (or increase the likelihood of) violence being committed
against himself - and it is these instances that an experienced Referee
will avoid like the plague. It must be emphasized that the Referee is
not there to project himself as a 'macho hard-man figure’; his
responsibility lies with protecting himself and the players, and not
becoming involved in petty face-to-face confrontations. This may not
suit those characters that believe in 'standing up for themselves'.
The ultimate solution in preventing potential personal serious violence,
is (before the violence occurs) for the Referee to remove himself from
the scene immediately and into a safe environment - and not to concern
himself unduly with the result of the game - this can be sorted out
later by the proper authorities, pending receipt of the Referee's
"After all - football is not the keystone to life - life is the keystone
Sadly, there will inevitably be occasions where a Referee will need to
use physical force to protect himself - this must only be used as a last
resort when being attacked - and when there is no other escape outlet.
Referees should not be castigated for using sensible physical protective
measures. The main aim for the Referee is to retain his composure and
not to react aggressively, but to remove himself from the situation as
quickly as possible, and seek a safe environment or the nearest police
or security officer protection.
2. So exactly what is violence
Violence occurs when an individual (or a group) attempt to impose their
will on the Referee, physically forcing the Referee to do what they
want. This includes any act that inflicts physical bodily harm such as
punching, pushing, head butting, slapping, spitting, and beating up.
Verbal abuse such as offensive, abusive and insulting language can also
be felt as strongly as having a physical act committed against you.
Anyone guilty of the above will have behaved violently. Verbal abuse is
usually the precursor to physical violence being committed, and the
Referee will need to distance himself from such confrontations. Although
the Referee is not esteemed in such high regard as he once was, most
potential acts of violence are thankfully 'nipped in the bud’ by the
more reasoned and seasoned teammates of a potential violent offender.
Experienced Referees can also ‘nip’ potential outburst in the ‘bud’
before they reach the uncontrollable stage. But this is not always the
case - with mass confrontation towards Referees being witnessed on
television and on the local playing fields in many countries - thus
sending out a damaging, uncontrollable, and downward spiraling image
against the 'spirit of the game'.
Racial harassment is also considered to be assault, which may be a
verbal, or a physical attack on yourself or your property.
Although being physically assaulted can be damaging and sometimes life
threatening, some non-physical actions can also produce the same or even
greater psychological harm to the victim. For example, threats to your
family and children, or being threatened with a broken bottle will not
be easily forgotten.
Assault on Referees usually originates from a verbal confrontation,
where the player has tried in vain to influence the Referee's decision,
or when the player totally disagrees with the Referee's decision - the
player then suddenly realizes that any mediation with the Referee will
also fail. This leads to the final stage, where physical assault is
seemingly unavoidable because the player involved has no other way to
"Being prepared.......is much better than being pared!"
The ‘better’ prepared a Referee is, the more enjoyable and safe he will
One way of minimizing assault is for the Referee to create a strong
impression when arriving at the ground - to build on that impression by
demonstrating an unassuming confident authority throughout the game -
and by leaving the ground satisfied that he has maintained an image that
players will unconsciously respect.
3. A wise Referee makes his own
Call home regularly. Keep in touch! The more that other people know
about your movements and whereabouts, the better protected you will be.
Let your loved ones, family or friends know where you have gone, and
what time you are expected to arrive back home. Leave important
telephone numbers at home - such as your Referees' Appointment
Secretary, or the Home Team contact (secretary or Home Ground contact
numbers). The mobile phone is an excellent way of contacting help should
the need arise. Taking a mobile phone to games, will increase the
confidence and security of a Referee - and will alleviate any concerns
of waiting relatives who can make contact with you should you not arrive
home on time for genuine reasons.
Traveling alone: Referees face greater risks when traveling alone.
Travel as a team when you can. If you decide to travel alone, female
Referees in particular should take extra precautions such as locking all
car doors, having a mobile phone available at all times, and considering
any other legal protective devices that are available on the open
On reaching the ground, try and park your car in the best possible
position, to enable a quick getaway. Do not park where there is a chance
of your car being 'boxed' in. When violence occurs against a Referee,
the easiest way to lessen the impact is to make your escape as quickly
and as gracefully as possible - and parking your car will have a big
effect on the success of this.
Dress sense: Referees should arrive at matches dressed neatly. Of course
this depends on the level of game. There may be the odd occasions when
due to lack of changing rooms at local park grounds, a tracksuit is a
better alternative. But the smarter you are, the more credence you will
have in the eyes of the players - this all adds to lessening the level
of abuse Referees may receive. Aim to dress 'professionally' - wear a
shirt and tie etc. A Referee arriving in jeans and ''T' shirt, carrying
his kit in plastic shopping bags will do nothing to help lessen
To help avoid unwelcome attention, Referees should take care to cover up
their Referees uniform when traveling to games. Leaving exposed Referee
equipment on view in the car during games, will also increase the
likelihood of damage being inflicted on your car whilst you are
officiating. It will also serve to make your car stand out 'like a sore
thumb' should anyone wish to confront you by your car after the game.
Keep your valuables well concealed.
"It has not been unknown for the wheels of a Referee's car
to be stolen
whilst he is officiating a game!"
4. Knowing the Laws:
Knowing the Laws of Associated Football inside out will greatly lessen
the chance of a Referee being assaulted. There will be many instances in
a Referee's career where his judgment and decision-making will be called
into question. A Referee, who learns to apply the Laws consistently and
correctly, will have far less trouble to contend with, than a Referee
who constantly makes mistakes. Players are very quick to criticize wrong
decisions, and constant wrong decision making by a Referee will
inevitably lead to a greater degree of confrontation. The Referee should
therefore keep abreast with the latest Law developments, and refresh his
Law knowledge on a regular basis - this is one of the easiest ways for a
Referee to lessen confrontation and assault.
Attending local Referees' Societies and reading the many books of
guidance will also build up a Referee's knowledge of football and its
constantly changing Laws. Many of the Laws are mandatory, and must be
carried out by Referees. Failing to take mandatory Law actions will
undoubtedly upset players - and this may lead to violence taking place.
Referees should also look closely at the individual League Rules in
which they are officiating. Rules can vary considerably, and it is not
unusual (for example) for the number of persons allowed within a
technical area to differ between different League competition Rules.
Knowing the appropriate Rules before each game will ensure that the
Referee is aware of the boundaries of his responsibilities for each
5. Keeping up with play:
|The nearer the Referee is to a potential trouble spot, the
quicker he can diffuse violence from erupting. Fitness is a key
element in minimizing assault. Preventing violence is much
better than dealing with violence. Referees should keep as fit
as possible, and learn to anticipate trouble spots on the field
of play. If a Referee is 50 yards away from an incident when
players are aggressively facing up to each other - by the time
he gets to the scene, violence may well have already taken place
- which could in turn result in the Referee himself being
assaulted. Keeping as near to play as possible, and blowing the
whistle very hard, may curb the perpetrators. The nearer a
Referee is to a decision making incident, the more credibility
he will have. Making decisions constantly from long distances
will only serve to aggravate players and lead to possible
confrontation. Referees should not shout orders
towards players over long distances. A
quiet word as you run alongside players is far more effective,
and less provoking for the player concerned.
During the award of free kicks, and after instances where the Referee
has needed to have a word with a player – he should move away quickly
towards the anticipated play area. Hanging around will only increase the
chances of harassment from players. Irate players will always try and
undermine a weak Referee. Referees should therefore never justify their
decisions to players - doing so will only lead to further trouble. In
such instances, the Referee should move away quickly from the trouble
spot (or strongly warn the perpetrator to "stop moaning and move away").
6. During Play:
If players spot any weaknesses in the Referee, they will be very quick
to try and exploit this to their advantage. It is therefore vitally
important for Referees to impart an aura of authority.
"The greater the aura the Referee can build up around himself, the less
trouble he will have."
The Referee will need to project an authoritative stance at the same
time as having a sense of humor and be able to show genuine concern for
injured players. It is a difficult thing to do - but players must get
the message that the Referee will not be easily intimidated by their bad
behavior. To be convincing, the Referee will need officiate in a manner
dictated by a good knowledge of the Laws and their interpretation.
The reaction of the team players, substitutes, managers, spectators, and
how the Referee himself feels on the day, will also effect how his
authority will be accepted (or not).
Authority can be imparted in several ways:
(a) dressing smartly:
(b) standing erect:
(c) looking players in the eye:
(h) being polite BUT firm:
(i) working as a team with the Assistant Referees:
(j) making fair decisions:
(m) using common sense:
(n) not being over-officious: and most of all, being human.
These are only just a few areas that the Referee can
consider - in lessening the chances of being assaulted.
One of the greatest problems for the modern Referee is how to control
the amount and severity of dissent shown towards them. Although it is
impossible to act on all cases of dissent shown on the field of play,
the Referee will need to use his man-management skills to quickly curb
any growing dissent. A Referee who ignores dissent will undoubtedly be
building himself further trouble.
"Ignore all dissent at your peril".
It has been argued that the growing dissent towards Referees witnessed
on television at the top levels, make it very difficult for the
'grass-roots' park Referee to control players. But - it may be that the
Referee in the top-level match cannot hear the dissent due to the crowd
noise! Or the camera has 'panned-in' to witness the dissenting player -
but the Referee has turned away to run towards his new position. These
are two factors that make dissent on television look much worse than
that experienced at park level. After all, a good Referee when making a
decision does not hang around inviting dissent. Remaining on the scene
of minor infringements will only lead to players haranguing the Referee.
The Referee will of course need to remain in close proximity following
serious infringements of the Laws.
When admonishing players, the Referee should speak with dignity,
politeness and in a firm manner. Doing otherwise will increase the
chances of trouble escalating. Do not justify or apologize for your
decisions, or wag your finger at players, push or shout at them, swear,
berate, be sarcastic or flash your cards under their nose - this is
asking for trouble!
In situations where a melee of fighting players occurs, and the violence
is such that intervention by the Referee is impossible, the Referee can
consider abandoning the game. In such circumstances, it is not advisable
for the Referee to hang around obtaining the names of the many
perpetrators. It is impossible to remember all that happens when a
violent melee ensues. If the Referee abandons the game, he should inform
anyone who is reasonably well behaved, that the game has been abandoned.
He should then retreat to a very safe distance to witness any further
serious acts of violence. Following this, the Referee should make his
way from the ground as soon as possible. Do not hang around in the hope
of obtaining names. A report to the appropriate authorities can be along
the lines of:
" I wish to report an incident that occurred at (time of incident)
during a match played on (date) at (venue) between (Home team) v (Away
Team) in the (name of competition).
Numerous players from both teams converged on the scene and a mass brawl
I witnessed many players grappling with each other and exchanging
violent punches and kicks.
The situation was further confused by players (and team officials) from
both sides entering the fracas in an attempt to restore order. I blew my
whistle loudly several times to no avail.
In the total confusion, it was impossible to be certain of the
identities of all the individuals who behaved violently. Rather than
attempt to dismiss a large number of players, which would have resulted
in further problems, I had no alternative but to abandon the match. It
would have been impossible to restore order and calm after such total
violence. The facts are therefore reported to you for this misconduct
charge against the clubs to be investigated".
The appropriate authorities (AND NOT THE REFEREE) are responsible for
investigating the facts.
"When controlling games, The Referee should be an example to those watching
Of how to behave under impossible circumstances."
Maintaining his authority, even when all those around him are maiming
his authority is the Referee's main duty.
Touching, pushing, pulling or intervening between fighting players may
lead to the Referee being abused himself. The Referee should use his
whistle, and impart strong words to desist warring players. In
situations where players are fighting, the Referee needs to witness
events from a nearby safe standoff point - and not get 'sucked' into the
maelstrom of confrontation. This way, he can see the inevitable irate
goalkeeper who has run some 50 yards to barge aggressively into the back
of an unsuspecting opponent! In situations where a melee of players
ensues, the Referee must observe proceedings carefully, and calm players
down from a short distance, and not get involved himself by using any
physical means. Taking a safe stand-of point will also allow the Referee
a few moments to consider what disciplinary action he needs to take.
Getting embroiled in situations will not allow the Referee any breathing
space to calm players down immediately following a violent confrontation
If a player decides to re-tie his bootlaces whilst you are about to
discipline him, politely ask him to stand up before you speak to him.
There are several views on whether a Referee should show the yellow or
red card or not before taking a player's particulars. Common sense
dictates that at park level, if you are cautioning a player, it is
better to firstly tell that player that you are cautioning him. This
way, the player knows that he is not being sent-off, and this can have
an effect in calming that player down. It also tells the player that any
further misdemeanors may lead to a sending off - this may stop the
player from committing another offence. Conversely, before sending a
player off, the Referee should ask the name of the player before showing
the red card. This way, the Referee obtains the name before an
inevitable backlash of incredulity. Showing the red card before taking a
player's particulars will only make that player even more angry, and he
may possibly leave the field of play without having given the Referee
his name - and 'more fool' the Referee who tries to obtain the players
name after this!
Of course, Referees will need to read their local League or Football
Association stipulations, and local area/Country advice on the procedure
for 'showing cards' before deciding how to deal with players themselves.
In higher competitions, Referees are provided with team-sheets listing
all of the players and their respective team numbers. And at the very
top of the Referee profession, they are provided with a video of the
game itself. This makes if far more easier when disciplining players
whose names are already well known by everyone because of their constant
media coverage. Top FIFA Referees only need to note the number of any
infringing player - whereas park Referees will certainly need to take
Those Referees (the majority of us) who officiate at grass roots will
have to rely on good old 'man-management', memory, and the trusty old
Referees notepad! Whatever system you use, be careful how you apply it,
and certainly do not apply it in a 'showy' way that will further incense
an already angry player. The card should be shown at an arm's length
above the Referees head, away from, and to the side of the player, in a
calm and un-provocative manner - and not shoved right up under the
player's nose! Hold the card there for 2 or three seconds to allow all
concerned to witness the disciplinary action you have taken.
Arrogance is a stance that Referees should never take, as this will
undoubtedly inflame players and lead to further problems. Nobody likes
being humiliated in front of his or her friends. No mater how disgusting
a player's behavior is towards you, the Referee must retain his dignity,
and deal with players as you (the Referee) would wish to be dealt with.
Players have been known to have very long memories, and an act of
arrogance by the Referee will not be easily forgotten - and stored in
the memory of players for future use on (or off) the field of play.
The Referee is the figurehead of the Football Association, and is there
to ensure that fair play is adhered to. Law 5 lists the Powers and
Duties given to the Referee by the Football Association, they are not to
be used by the Referee for any personal show of superiority or
one-upmanship. There are occasions when the Referee will need to be firm
when dealing with discipline matters. The trick is to remain calm - at
the same time, making sure that any player being cautioned is fully
aware that if he commits a further offence, he may be sent off the field
There is invariably an incident in every game that will turn the nature
of the game from one of being contested in a 'gentlemanly manner (no
apologies for using that phrase) to one of all-out war. Referees must
therefore keep a sharp look out for these 'turning points', and act
swiftly to prevent a serious incident becoming more serious. A typical
example is following a penalty decision. Players will feel aggrieved -
and it could be argued that the Referee awarding the penalty has created
the flash point himself. It is therefore vitally important for each
Referee to gain as much experience as possible - thus minimizing those
dubious penalty (and other) dubious type decisions. The Referee is never
going to please everyone, but can do a lot to help him avoid and
Common sense and the 'spirit of the game' are much talked about. These
are the drivers that ensure football (soccer) retains its sporting
ethos. Players diving to try and get penalties, pulling of shirts,
verbal antagonizing and unsporting behavior are all areas that if
minimized, can actually result in the Referee having more control of the
game, and lessening the chance of trouble coming his way. Players will
not be too happy if the Referee lets one team 'get away' with any acts
As soon as any conflict materializes, the Referee should look around for
the best position, to have the perpetrator(s) in front of him - at the
same time as being able to view most of the remaining players on the
field of play. This may mean shifting position to entice troublemakers
into a position that suits the Referee and not them. Referees should
ensure that there is a protection zone between themselves and the
perpetrator. A conflict can be anything from a simple cautioning of a
player, to dealing with an irate melee of approaching players.
+- ABC of Conflict -+ page for advice on how to deal with disciplining
players on the field of play.
7. Trouble with Team Officials:
Law 5 furnishes the Referee the Powers and Duties to discipline and
report any instances committed by team officials (and just about anybody
else) taking place before, during or after the game. Dealing with the
technical area is a skill in itself. The Referee will need to learn how
to balance 'turning a deaf ear' with ' wielding a big stick'.
Man-management plays an important factor - so does a match 'turning
point', peoples' perception, and tribal team loyalty. A quiet word with
any perpetrators may save further trouble. But please do not forget,
that the occupants of the technical area are supposed to behave in a
proper manner. In real life, this very rarely happens. Confronting the
technical area occupants can be one of the most daunting moments for the
Referee. Be sure of your facts, and only approach if you intend to take
warning or disciplinary action. The majority of remarks should just be
ignored. Deciding which diagonal to run may also alleviate having to
constantly run within earshot of the technical areas. A Referee can
induce antagonism by just standing still near the technical areas. So if
it is possible, don't make matters worse by selecting a diagonal that
places you constantly near the technical area. Make sure you know the
regulations concerning the number and type of persons allowed within the
technical area. Infiltrators will only serve to make matters worse. Look
at the individual competition Rules, and feel comfortable in the
knowledge that if you (the Referee) have to deal with the technical area
- you do so fully conversant with it's specific Rule and Law
Very often (particularly at the lower levels) the Rules covering
technical area are not understood by the occupants. In such cases, the
Referee should quietly remind any troublemakers of how they are expected
to behave, and explain the punishment for not doing so. If you are
lucky, rapport may be built between the Referee and the technical area.
Retaining a sense of humor is permitted when the situation warrants it,
but only when the occupants are behaving themselves. In the more senior
levels of football, some of the occupants may have had years of
football/soccer experience behind them. So be aware that they must be
treated with respect at all times. A quite word usually suffices to calm
down the odd expostulation. Do not get involved in close combat
arguments - the best course of action is to swiftly, and firmly deal
with potential trouble, and then move away and restart the game as
quickly as possible. This gives the occupants something else to
concentrate on, instead of lambasting you at close quarters.
"I liken this action it to an eagle swooping in on its prey,
Dealing with it, and then swooping quickly away out of danger."
"The Referee and his Assistants are often seen as being 'easy prey'.
So the Referee should not prey upon the technical area."
Staying around to pick at the vitriol will only lead to you (the
Referee) being picked at yourself. And lastly - ignore ALL the comments
at your peril. There will be times when the Referee will need to deal
firmly and take the necessary discipline action against offenders by
moving them out of the technical area and away from the near vicinity of
the field of play. Allowing disgusting behavior to persist from the
technical area, will undoubtedly lead to serious problems later on in
8. Once the Game has Finished:
A great deal of argument may ensue following the end of a game. This is
the time when players, managers, coaches and spectators tend to vent
their spleen towards the Referee and his Assistants. The best piece of
advice is for Referees to stay as far away as possible from any areas
that look as though confrontation may arise. To achieve this, Referees
should either make their way back to the dressing rooms before the
players do - or wait until all the players have disappeared. In other
words, try to keep away from the players at all times after the game.
This is not always possible - but keeping a maximum distance will ensure
that confrontation is minimized. Conversely, there will be times (e.g.
when two teams are arguing amongst themselves after the game) that the
presence of the Referee in close quarters will have a calming effect. In
other words - if they are aware of the Referee's presence, they may
desist with their arguments.
When a team loses a game, it is normally always the fault of the Referee
(so the players would have us believe). The Referee and his Assistants
should meet together as soon as possible after the final whistle is
blown at the end of each half. This procedure is not done for 'show',
but to increase their protection as a team should matters boil over.
Notwithstanding this, the Referee has a duty to observe and report any
misdemeanors’ occurring after the game has ended. Any requests to NOT
report misconduct should be strongly waved away - it is the Referees'
duty to report all misconduct. If he doesn't, then the Referee who
officiates that same team on the following week could find himself in
deeper trouble because of your weakness. There will always be the odd
'moan or two' about decisions made on the field of play - most of these
should just be ignored. By just being in close proximity, the Referee
can (without actually doing anything) provoke a spontaneous outburst
from irate players.
"The greater the distance - the greater the peace stance".
Immediately following the end the match, Referees should not involve
themselves with discussing decisions made on the field of play. Of
course, there is nothing wrong in discussing such points of play, but
these can be more amicably discussed after the players have had a few
minutes or so to calm down. Referees should never enter the team
dressing rooms uninvited, and certainly not after the game.
There will be many occasions when irate managers and coaches will 'knock
on the Referees door' to gain entry into the Referee changing room to
vent their anger and frustration. Referees are within their rights to
refuse admission. One method of moderating such intrusions is to
purchase a mini-tape recorder (or Dictaphone) and place it on the table
for any intruders to see. It does not matter whether it is recording or
not - its presence will certainly make any irate interlopers think very
carefully about what they say to the Referee in his changing room. Of
course, any such recorded outbursts could prove very useful as evidence
if the Referee needs to report misconduct should matters get out of
"Sadly, there will be times
Even when Referees have minimized the risk
That they will be assaulted. Sadly- such is life."
9. List of what Referees should
do if they are assaulted:
Below are some of the actions that a Referee can take if
they have been assaulted. This is not a definitive listing, and is not
meant to supersede any local Referees' advice provided in your local
area. It is here as an aid-memoir for those who need it:
- 1. If the injury occurs before or during the game, the Referee will
need to decide whether or not to abandon the game. This includes being
fully in control both mentally and physically. In other words, are you
fully capable of controlling the game? As a general rule, the game
should be abandoned. Never react to an assault yourself. Keep your
composure and do not lose your temper. Blow your whistle to end the
game, and confirm this to the team captains (or the Club Officials at
the touchline) as you leave the field of play. You should remove
yourself from the location as soon as possible. Collect your clothes
immediately, and depart in your Refereeing kit.
- 2. Consider the severity of any assault or injury. Do not attempt to
drive if you are in shock or are seriously injured. Contact your family
or friends as soon as you can after the assault. You may need them to
The body reacts to
traumatic shock by directing more blood to the arteries supplying the
vital organs (e.g. brain heart and kidneys) at the expense of those
supplying the less important tissue (e.g. muscle and skin). Symptoms of
shock include, feeling weak, faint, giddy anxious and restless. Casualty
may vomit; feel thirsty, breath shallow and rapidly inducing yawning and
sighing. Skin becomes pale or grey in color (particularly the lips),
cold and moist with sweat. Pulse increases and but becomes weaker and
sometimes irregular as the blood/fluid drops. Unconsciousness may
develop. There may be evidence of associated external or internal
injury. First aid treatment involves reassuring the casualty, keeping
the head low by lying down and turning the head to one side to increase
blood to the brain and lessen the dangers of vomiting. Do not unduly
move the patient. The legs should be raised - but not if a leg is
fractured. Keep warm but do not apply a hot water bottle. Loosen any
tight clothing. Do not have anything to drink (this will delay any
subsequent administration of anesthetic for emergency treatment to any
serious injury) - but the lips can be moistened. No smoking allowed.
Shock can materialize many hours after the incident, so look out for any
of these symptoms - particularly if you are driving home alone. Seek
medical attention immediately. .
- 3. Seek immediate medical attention for any serious injuries received.
Retain any receipts for medical expenditure and any additional traveling
expenses incurred because of any injury. For example, you may need to
pay for your car to be collected from the ground and delivered to your
home - or for any taxi fares to and from hospital. Also keep a record of
any loss of earnings. Costs may be recoverable from the person
concerned, under an award by the Criminal Injuries Compensation
Authority or under any insurance cover you may have.
- 4. Only if it is safe to do so - try and obtain the names and contact
details of any witnesses to the assault. Consult your Assistant
Referees. Ideally, witnesses should be independent persons who will have
clearly seen the incident. But others who maybe did not see the entire
incident, but witnessed what happened afterwards, may also be able to
provide useful evidence. Do not allow your senior Assistant Referee to
take over a match that you have abandoned.
Try to identify, and obtain details of the person who committed the
assault. This includes players, substitutes, Club Officials or
representatives. The Home Club is also responsible for reporting
misbehavior by spectators. Players who assault the Referee should (if
possible) be shown the Red card and dismissed from the field of play. If
because of your injury, it is not possible to send off the player, you
may be able to inform the Captain later, that this player will be
reported for his action. If you feel that showing the red card will
exasperate the situation even further, then do not do so!
If the perpetrator is a Club Trainer, you must decide whether his
presence on the touchline presents a threat to your match control during
the rest of the game. If you decide to continue with the game, but the
Club Trainer interferes with the game again, then the game must be
- 5. If you are injured as the result of an assault on you, report the
matter to the police. Give them the name of the person(s) who assaulted
you - or if this is not available, supply them with as much detail as
you can concerning a contact point for the team involved. If it is
necessary, immediately call the Police or the Ambulance for medical
attention. Serious incidents should be reported to the Police, who will
ask you to provide a statement of what happened (which should be along
the lines of your match report of the incident). It is important to
ensure that your match report of the incident is 'water-tight' because
you may be liable to cross-examination of its content (and any other
written material you supply to the FA) if the decision to prosecute goes
ahead, and the accused pleads not guilty. Ask the Police for a crime
reference number - a copy of any statements made will not normally be
provided, but there is no harm in asking for a copy. Where there is
clear evidence of an unprovoked attack, the Police will decide whether a
prosecution can be expected. If the Police decide not to prosecute, then
you are still entitled to apply for a private assault summons (private
prosecution or a civil claim) from your local magistrate's court.
Financial assistance for this may be available on application to the
Football Association or County FA, or the Referees' Association.
- 6. Take photographs as soon as possible, of any injuries you have
received. Keep a full record of any injury or any other loss.
- 7. When you get home, make copious additional notes describing the
incident in full. You can refer to these at a later stage should you be
required to do so.
- 8. Send in the appropriate misconduct reports detailing the incident.
Keep a copy for yourself. If because of the injuries you have received
you are unable to report the incident immediately - get someone else to
do this for you, or if you are able, report the details to your
Disciplinary Secretary by telephone, giving reasons for any delay in
providing a written report. Your report to the FA must be consistent
with any statements that you have made to the Police. And should include
details of any witnesses, and the names of your Assistant Referees. Mark
the report clearly in RED
with "Assault Case" to
make it easily identifiable. Instruct your Assistant Referees to submit
their own separate reports of the incident.
- 9. Give details of the assault to your local Referees
Society/Association and your County/Area Referee representative and the
General Secretary of your National Referees Association. Financial help
may be available for legal proceedings and for any injuries received.
- 10. Inform the Referees' Appointment Secretary of the league in which
the team plays in. If the team involved is affiliated to a County/State
outside of your own County/State - contact your local Football
Association for details of where to send the report.
- 11. If because of injuries sustained - you can not officiate in any
future allocated matches - let the appropriate League Referees'
appointment secretaries know - so that other officials can be allocated
to your games.
- 12. Keep any interested parties fully informed with all proceedings at
any stage, whilst the assault is being investigated - including details
of any prosecution as the result of action being taken against the
perpetrator(s) by the police.
The above assumes that the Referee belongs to a recognized
Referees Association and/or Football Association. It is important for
Referees to join such Associations - if only for the insurance cover
provided against being assaulted.
There are many ways in which the Referee can look after himself and
minimize assault. If the advice given above prevents just one assault -
it would have been well worth the writing.
Above all - keep safe!!!