The Memories & Spirit of the Game, as only Ken Aston could teach it...
Enjoy, your journey here on...
... Straying From Structure
Andrew Castiglione
Founder of Ken Aston Referee Society

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" So don't be afraid to... stray!!! "

Refereeing is a... Art Form,... NOT a Science. If it were a science we could teach Referees what to do in very situation. There would be a right and wrong way to Referee soccer, and the game was never meant to be played or Refereed scientifically.

The beauty of the game is in its dynamics and diversity, not its structure. The best Referees understand this concept and allow the dynamics of the game to dictate how the game will be Refereed. The best Referees are not tied to any certain referee structure.

Unfortunately many Referees in America allow the FIFA and Federation guidelines to limit their ability to express the art of Refereeing. They feel tied to those guidelines as if they were scientific truths, and never let their personality take over and add creativity to their Refereeing.

If we, as Referees, want to compete on the world stage of soccer, we must learn to Referee with our heart as much as with our head. We must be free to make decisions in the context of the match we are Refereeing and not some model presented in a book.

This is not to say that you throw the book out and do what you want. On the contrary, you must know the book, line and verse. You must not only understand what the words say but what they mean, as well. In other words, if you want to Referee on the creative edge you must know where the edge is.

A simple example of what I am talking about is the restrictions on goalkeepers. To properly Referee the match you must not only know what those restrictions are, but why they were imposed. When you understand that the restrictions were to keep the goalkeeper from wasting time, and not because FIFA just doesn't like goalkeepers, then you can make the proper decision in the context of what's happening in the match you are Refereeing.

The following is a more specific example of how structure can affect a match.

While assessing a professional match recently I observed two players having a pushing contest off the ball behind the Referee's back. The Referee turned around in time to see the player who had been pushed first, turn and push the player who pushed him. At that point the altercation was over. The two players split up and went on to play. After what seemed like a long time the Referee blew the whistle to stop play, and sent off the player he saw pushing the other player. The match went down hill from there; the coach had to be removed and the match got nasty After the match I asked the Referee why he stopped the match to send off the player when it was obvious the altercation was over and the players had gone on to play. His reply was that he had seen the player push the other player and felt obligated to stop the match and send the player off.

At this level, in this match, there was a question whether even a caution was necessary. A Referee with more understanding of the match he was Refereeing and a more tolerant attitude might have just run by the two players and said something like... "Are you two done? If not, I will stop the match and deal with you". This would have had a more positive result and eliminated the follow-on problems in this match.

Your willingness to find alternative solutions to man-management problems that fit the match you are Refereeing, will set you apart from those Referees whose personalities don't allow them to stray from the structure they see as the book solution. The Law Book was written with very few situations that call for a specific disciplinary action; so don't be afraid to stray from structure if it could have a positive effect on the match.

Those of you whose personality will allow you to compromise, accept criticism, endure adversity, and Referee from the heart, will have a place in the future of Soccer refereeing in the WORLD. 

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Page updated on... Saturday, September 13, 2014 @ 21:20:08 -0700 PM-GMT
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