Defining Abuse

Any type of abuse is UNACCEPTABLE, especially in a youth league.  ABUSE can be performed by coaches, parents or spectators.  If you are subjected to abuse file a report and notify the WSRO President and your Assignor.

So what is ABUSE?  What are the signs as to when the referee should get involved?

Abuse is defined but not limited to:
1. Constant complaining.
2. Questioning every decision (dissent)
3. Sarcastic remarks
5. Gyrating actions
6. Kicking or throwing objects – SEND THE COACH IMMEDIATELY
7. Unpleasant comments by the spectators or parents – NOTIFY THE COACH (see “parent/spectator abuse” below)
8. Personal attacks on any member of the officiating crew – TERMINATE GAME IMMEDIATELY

Dealing with Problem Coaches

Referees are encouraged to take action against disruptive coaches. New referees need to be comfortable with their responsibility in this regard. Use the following procedure to manage disruptive coaches.

THE USE OF CARDS IS PERMITTED WHEN DEALING WITH BENCH PERSONNEL.  We are allowed to display the yellow card to “Tell” the coach/bench personnel to stop the abuse, and are also allowed to display the red card to Dismiss the coach/bench personnel.


If comments from a coach have created a situation that you feel is disruptive to the game:

  • Choose a time to stop the match when the opposing team is not attacking
  • Take note of where the ball is, as that is where your restart will be
    • a dropped ball if stopped just to handle the situation
  • Go over to the coach (in a controlled manner yourself)
  • ASK the coach to stop his irresponsible behavior / dissent, then move away.  Allow him to vent a little.
  • Do not entertain a discussion on a call.  Explain to the coach “Coach I am not here to discuss the call, I am here to ASK you to stop your irresponsible behavior” then move away.
  • Restart according to the stoppage

This generally will get the coach to stop… but if negative comments/actions continue:

  • Stop the game using the above shown procedure
  • (TELL) Display the yellow card
  • You do not need to say anything, the coach knows but you may say,  “Coach I’m telling you to stop your irresponsible behavior / dissent.”  Do not entertain a discussion on a call. (see above)
  • Restart according to the stoppage.

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If the coach continues to disrupt the game:

  • Stop the game using the above shown procedure
  • Approach the coach
  • (DISMISS) Display the red card
  • You will need to ask the coach to leave the area of the game
  • Acknowledge that the assistant coach is taking over. If there is no assistant with a valid League ID card, the game is over.
  • Assistant coach (or trainer) must have a pass
  • Do not restart the game until the dismissed coach is as far away as you feel he needs to be.  If he wont leave after a reasonable time, terminate the game.
  • Restart according to the stoppage

IF YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT ISSUING THE RED CARD DUE TO THE COACH’S BEHAVIOR, WYSL ALLOWS THE ISSUING OF A MISCONDUCT (YELLOW, or RED card) IN THE REPORT.  The WSRO encourages you to do so.  If necessary, notify the other coach the game is terminated and leave the area.  Enter the “silent” red card to the coach in your report.

Do not ask the coach to come into the field to speak with him.  It is preferable to keep him outside the field.

If the coach behaves inappropriately towards you once the game is ended, you do not need to display cards and do not engage in conversation.  Note this behavior in your report.  You can issue a yellow or red card in your report without having displayed it.

You have the support of the WSRO and WYSL to implement this procedure. Abuse from substitutes, spectators and bench personnel is also the responsibility of the coach and can be handled similarly (see below).
If a red card is issued to the coach, try to retain his pass at the end of the match, enter the information in your report and submit the pass to WYSL office or the appropriate competition authority.

Coaches comments should be made through the coach comment form in the WYSL website.

In case of coach or spectator abuse contact the WSRO President and the Assignor.

Parent/Spectator Abuse

Abuse by spectators (including parents) is to be handled using the same technique of Ask, Tell, Dismiss, but instead of directing your comment to the spectator/parent you will ask/tell/dismiss by asking the coach to handle the issue. DO NOT EVER direct your comments to the spectators.  Speak to the coach and have him ask the parent to stop their irresponsible behavior (ASK).  If the behavior continues explain to the coach that if the spectators do not cease their irresponsible behavior the game will be terminated (TELL).  If the spectator behavior continues then ask the coach to remove the spectator (DISMISS).  If the coach refuses to act or the spectator refuses to leave, then you may terminate the game.

No referee should engage in answering questions OR providing their name or information at the field.  Any such inquiry must be made to the Director of referees for the WYSL.  Any such “passive/aggressive” questioning should be dealt with as abuse.

Field Invasion

If any parent or spectator should enter the field without permission or in a threatening or aggressive manner, the referee should immediately suspend the game by moving towards the coach’s area and ask the coach to remove the spectator from the field.  If necessary for his own safety, referee is to leave the field to a safe location.

In any case, such spectator is dismissed and needs to be removed from the field area by the coach and is not to be in the vicinity of the game or the game is terminated.

Do not confuse field invasion with a parent entering the field to tend to their injured offspring.  Even though it is not the ideal situation, parents are emotional and will enter to check on their kids, specially in the younger divisions.   As soon as the coach is waved into the field, move away (25 to 30 feet) from the injured child so you are not nearby for the coach or the parents to vent on you.  Stay alert as to the injured player in case you should recognize signs of concussion.

Linesperson Coaching

Under no circumstances should anyone be directing the players except the coaches. If a club lines assistant is giving instructions to players, remind  him or her, nicely, to please refrain from doing so. If it continues, explain to the coach the problem, and ask the coach to talk to the linesman. If it continues, ask the coach to replace that person.

Questioning the referee

Any questions directed to a referee at the field the referee will request any such inquiries be directed to the league or Assignor.

Due to easy accessibility to video, No referee should engage in answering questions OR providing their name or information at the field.  Please direct any such inquiry to the League or Assignor.  Any such persistent “passive/aggressive” questioning, should be dealt with as abuse.


Referee Assault

The following is the procedure that MUST be followed in the event of an assault on a referee:

  1. If the game was in progress, the referee IMMEDIATELY terminates the contest. Under NO circumstances is the game to be completed.
  2. If a person with a pass (coach/player/trainer) was involved, and the referee can safely do so, display the red card. Again, if safety permits, after retaining the offender(s) card(s), the referee may return the others unless the local rules require the referee to retain all passes (using an intermediary is a good method to avoid any further problems). However, even if the referee cannot display the red card or retain the passes, a Supplemental Game Report still is to be submitted detailing the assault and the misconduct (dismissal/send off).
  3. If contact was of a nature that a crime was possibly committed (physical assault i.e. being struck, bumped, pushed, or spat upon), the referee is to contact local law enforcement immediately and fill out a formal complaint at the venue. This way, any witnesses who can support the referee’s story will be on record with the police as well.
  4. As soon as possible (preferably same day) the referee is to contact:
    Position Name Email Telephone
    WSRO President Piero Olcese 914-806-3411
    ENY State Referee Administrator (SRA)  
    ENY State Youth Referee Administrator (SYRA) Ray Wolfe 516-488-1883
    ENY State Association President for Adult Games Sal Rapaglia 917-371-5188
    ENY State Association President for Youth Games Richard Christiano 516-766-0849
  5. Fill out a USSF Referee Game and Supplemental Reports. Make NO recommendations or suggestions as to what you feel should be done. Simply state the facts. Be sure to send copies to all four individuals in step listed in Step 4.
  6. Await contact by either the SRA or the State office about further proceedings. Be sure to proceed with any charges with local law enforcement.
  7. If the game is a WYSL game, you must note the incident when you submit your game report online. If you were safely capable of retaining the individual(s) card(s), you must send the pass(es) to the WYSL as procedure requires. Otherwise, follow the instructions of the competition authority.

Please note that these are ENY State requirements and must be followed!!