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Referees represent the laws of soccer, like judges represent the laws of daily life in a civilized society.

There are 3 entities that are fundamental to playing soccer for REAL.


These 3 entities, don’t have too much glory in doing what they do. When everything goes well it’s only normal. If something goes wrong, it’s only their fault. This explains why there are not many Keepers, Coaches or Referees. Not many like to do this and for doing this, you really need to love soccer. It’s like being a policeman. No one likes them but without them, we would go back the jungle laws in a week!

You don’t need spectators, grass, 11v11 players for having a soccer game. You can play without anyone watching, on the desert sand, 11v9 or 7v7 or whatever. But you can’t play soccer, seriously, without keepers, coaches and referees!

So, even forgetting keepers and coaches, without referees, THERE IS NO SOCCER because, referees represent the laws of soccer, like judges represent the laws of daily life in a civilized society.


Why do I underline this aspect? Because many soccer players, in particular youth soccer players seem to have forgotten this!

In conversations that I recently had with other coaches, who occasionally have to act as referees, or from my direct experience as a spectator of youth soccer games, a sad reality has come out: YOUTH PLAYERS DON’T RESPECT THE AUTHORITY OF THE REFEREES.


By constantly complaining
By constantly talking back, often very impolitely
By reacting against opponents, by pushing them away, after a fault

I have to recognize, that players act like that because, very often, Referees are too permissive.

Players should not be allowed to talk back. Players should not be allowed to have retaliations against opponents.

So, there is only one way to reestablish normality and that is to enforce the soccer laws.

Before the games, referees have to remind the players, the aspects underlined above. If during the games some players keep complaining or talking back, in particular young boys, the referee should act immediately.

-First, by warning him.
-If it happens again during the continuation of the game, give him a yellow card.
-If, during this episode, after the yellow card, he continues talking back, immediately show him a red card!

Players have to understand that complaining, talking back, or worse, retaliation against opponents, is UNACCEPTABLE and it’s against the soccer laws.

Players have to understand that, like in daily life, there are laws that have to be respected. We don’t cross the street with the red light. We don’t steal from stores. We don’t talk out loud at the movie theater during the film. We don’t thrown garbage on the street.

This are laws for the daily life. When we cross the chalk line of a soccer field, we have to submit ourselves to the laws of soccer. With no laws enforced by the referees, there is no soccer!

So, please, let’s respect the soccer laws and, in particular, let the Referees enforce them without being so tolerant. There is no reason to be tolerant, in particular with youth players. By doing this, when they leave the soccer field after the games, we authorize them to bring to daily life the attitude of not respecting the rules that we share in a civilized society.

Before publishing this article, I sent it to Ref. Vangelis and asked for a short comment. Here is what he thinks.


A reporter is visiting a clinic for crazy people. As he goes through the various areas he takes note of the activities of the patients there. He finally arrives at the recreation area of the building and there he sees a whole bunch of crazy people running around yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs: “Offside”, Corner Kick”, “Goal Kick”, “Penalty Kick”, and “Goal”.
“What is taking place here? he asks the attendant.
They are playing soccer, the attendant replies.
But I don’t see a ball. How can they play soccer without a ball?
They don’t need a ball; they are crazy!”

Well as crazy as it can be playing soccer without a ball, the same is true if you are playing a game of soccer without a referee.

It’s bad enough that some leagues in the USA choose to play with only one referee instead of the traditional diagonal system of control recommended by FIFA. Can you imagine playing a game without a referee at all? It’s impossible. (Note: The diagonal system of control, consists of one referee and two assistant referees and it is the only approved referee system of FIFA).

In the world of soccer the referees are the most respected and appreciated individuals because of the tremendous task placed upon them.

First, a referee is required to uphold the laws of the game. In order to do this, the referee needs to be a student of the laws of the game so he can apply them correctly. The referee also needs to be aware and keep up with all the changes that take place in the laws. He also needs to be aware of the rules of the competition for each league or tournament he has been assigned to officiate. I know for a fact that there are referees who make it a practice to read the laws of the game at least once before each game. This is very commendable and certainly differentiates between better referees and others. “Just remember there are no good referees out there, only bad and worst ones”. This quotation comes from a coach and manager of a top amateur team in the Bay Area. It happened after a very good performance of mine at the beginning of my career as a referee and helped me to keep my head level to this day.

Second, the referee needs to make sure that the game is played according to the spirit of the law. That is: Fair, Impartial and Fun. In order to do this the referee needs to understand the spirit of the law and use common sense in applying it. Common sense has been described as the unwritten 18th law of soccer. It has to do with a person’s perception of the game, the attitude of the players, and the place and the moment of the situation. Another words, the referee must take into account the background, culture and emotions of the players and act accordingly. “Just remember you are as good as your last game”.

Third, the referee needs to be at the proper place at the right time to make the right call. In order to do this, the referee needs to maintain physical conditioning equal and even above the players for the level of competition of the game he has been assigned to officiate. Let’s face it; the referee needs to be in better shape than the players in order to accomplish this.
Over the years as a referee, I have seen it all, the bad the good and the ugly. And believe me I am not talking about the movie.
As we can see, the referee’s job is not an easy task to accomplish and not everyone can do it. Therefore, let us show respect, appreciation and gratitude instead of yelling, screaming, and second guessing the referee’s decisions.

Ref. Vangelis


Coach Gianni’s final comment.

Referees are use to talking with their whistles. Never ask a referees to make a short comment with words!!!!!

Better ask them to just blow the whistle J J J with their usual great competence!


Posted on 08 Nov 2006 by coachgianni
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