ABUSE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED!
What problem are you hoping to address? I am proposing that FYSA works together to engage the entire state soccer community with the understanding that referees are human and are inclined to make mistakes, how we learn. One huge problem that we have as a soccer community is the underlying cultural idea that “Referees are ignorant and evil” and some even against the perpetual flow of the game. Enforcing their ill will on the game of soccer, and their children becomes a conduit for them to compensate for their lack of proper parenting and life choices. Some parents and coaches make belligerent comments, scream abusive obscene language and embarrass themselves and their children in the process. Others are simply finding this as an avenue to release pressurized steam of their 40+ hour work week. Either way it’s inconceivable that this behavior be directed at our up and coming referees, experienced or not. How do we expect our referees to continue in order to gain the experience necessary if they are constantly being lambasted and berated?
What is the background? FYSA and FLSRC working together, encourage and entice younger players to engage with the referee community at large. They gather together young students who would be willing to lay it all on the line to become proficient as a referee. Once these kids get involved and gain momentum towards the pursuit of a career in refereeing, they start to get their feet underneath them, literally and making strides towards true development in the referee uniform and giving yellow and red cards as they are supposed to. The parents, seeing their 10 year old Messi being chastised by this young whipper-snapper referee as a target for their ill will and abuse, feel their own inner Messi being squashed. The coaches in turn start to defend the parents, turning on the referee and making even more abusive comments to the young protégé, thus turning the referee into a whipping post in a uniform that should command respect from both the parents and coaches.
What is your recommendation? In order to approach this issue and encompass a change in this type of illicit behavior, there must be a concerted effort from the State at the club level to eliminate the thought prior to being brought to fruition. There are a number of ways in which we as the state soccer association can attempt to thwart this type of action, but we must work together to make this happen.
Silent Saturdays, “No Abuse” Signs at the field, A-Frames with a similar message, pre-season and continuous parental education pamphlets, flyers and videos are all examples of the action that FYSA needs to engage at the clubs to support the referees at this level to show them that we as a state association have not left them as verbal cannon fodder.
At the 2019 State Commissioners Cup, yellow and black signs were introduced and in the areas where posted went a long way towards deferring the angry commentary of the parents, but we need to take this much further.
How would they be distributed and what are the intended uses? Distribute to clubs? At the 2019 AGM I spoke with numerous representatives that would be willing to support a creative effort towards developing an A-Frame sign with the same type of verbiage as the signs which if pushed out to our leagues, could then be disseminated to our clubs. These A-Frames would be a giant step towards eliminating the detrimental behavior at the youth level and perhaps support more referee retention.
Let’s face this, if we lose our referees, there will be no soccer matches. We must engage this at the club and tournament level across the state in order to retain the newer referees. Most of our new generation of referees are culturally drenched and emotionally unwilling or unable to deal with the verbal assaults that are being thrust at them on this level with only one recourse, quit.
I see only one alternative, FYSA has the ability and needs to support our state level referees and show them we are united. I see the propagation of the “NO ABUSE” A-Frames, throughout the state, as an absolute must in order to address referee retention in order and we as the leaders in FYSA must support our youth referees. Let’s make it so!