Just a few scenarios to think about on a grey morning:
a1) The Home team for a U-23 league was supposed to wear their maroon shirts. The Visiting team was supposed to wear their white shirts. Both teams have black shorts and dark socks. The idiot captain for Home sent an e-mail to the team telling them to only bring their white shirt (hey, it is an amateur league, it happens). Game time comes and it is absolutely gorgeous out (sunny, dry, 85, not humid). Both teams are on the field in white shirts. There are no pinnies, and no alternative t-shirts available. A player says that they have a grease marker for triathlon numbers in the car. What do you do?
a2) Does your decision change if the Home team is sponsored by one of the better local microbreweries and there is a pony keg of their most recent successful brew?
a3) Does your decision change if the league is the U-23 Open Women’s League in either A-1 or A-2?
The game is a U-17 co-ed, recreational level game. It has been fairly clean and very low skilled game. The best player on the field is a young woman mainly because she was willing to use her body to effectively challenge for the ball and tried to play through contact. At the 61st minute, she is applying high pressure to the ball and her and her opponent spend the next ten seconds jockeying and bumping each other against the side line. No foul is called and the ball eventually ends up out of bounds for a throw-in. Her opponent then says in a sotto voce “She’s feisty”
What do you do?
Women’s Open game — what is your generic term for the players when you are trying to address them collectively in the following scenario “XXX, don’t worry, I have the clock”
Men’s semi-pro game at night in a barely attended stadium. The weather conditions at kick-off are okay, but by half time a thick fog has settled into the field. It is 0-0 at the start of the second half. By the 71st minute, both assistant referees have informed the center referee that when play goes into the farside corner where the lights are, they can not see players/shadows/penumbras of players for a thirty yard stretch of the field. By now it is 4-0. What do you do? Does your decision change if it is still tied?
White is playing Blue. White is up 3-0 with 15 minutes left. White #11 gets whacked pretty good in the midfield but distributes the ball to White #3 who has space to run. What do you do?
My thoughts below:
A1) As this is an amateur match and both teams have at least eleven, the objective is to get the game in. The referee should file a match report with the league identifying the uniform problem. Shirts versus Skins is a viable solution.
A2) Abandon the match and drink beer
A3) I’m not suggesting shirts versus skins. There is a line between practical and skeevy that I don’t want to find out exactly where it is. This was the actual scenario. The home captain suggested that they would run skins.
Scenario B and C both came from an interesting car ride to a tournament a couple of weeks ago. In the car was me, another guy about my age, a woman a few years younger than me, and finally a twenty-something woman (who has already made an appearance in this series). We’re driving two hours to a complex for a full day of games. As referees are inclined, we talked soccer for 90 miles.
In Scenario B, the young referee was in the middle. She went straight Red for Foul and Abusive Language. I was surprised at first. The next five miles was an explanation. Effectively she and the player were hearing “suck my dick, bitch.” I get where she was coming from and why it was Red. Now that I had that conversation, I’ll go Red to for that comment, I just never would have thought about it rising to more than a raised eyebrow in that scenario before hand.
Scenario C had an interesting split in the car. Both me and the other guy have always used either “Players” or jersey colors (Red, white, gold etc) for a collective informal grouping of female players. The woman who is just a few years younger than me uses either jersey colors or “ladies” and the young referee uses “guys”. The young-in says she uses it as she is seen as a near peer and it is a colloquial utilization. I get that, I use “guys” as a collective grouping with my peers as well, but it has always felt odd to say that to a group of women who are significantly younger than me. I think “guys” would work but feel awkward to me. On the other hand, “Ladies” is something that I can’t get away with. The connotations of diminution are too strong for a male referee to use in a women’s game.
Scenario D is an interesting challenge for a referee as these are the types of games where people who eventually want to get to the MLS need to do well on. I was AR-2 and I had informed the center that I was useless on far left hand side attacks at the 63rd minute. At that point, I thought the game should be abandoned for safety and the game was 3-0 at that point. No one would have complained. AR-1 went to the referee at the 71st minute. The referee abandoned the game at the 77th minute.
The assessor talked with us after the game and said that he would have abandoned the game by the 70th minute and probably at the point when the first AR (me) told the center that he could not see across the field. It just was not safe and the teams would not have complained as the issue had been decided. By not abandoning the game, the referee hurt his promotion chances.
Why am I talking about Scenario E?
This is a simple advantage decision. Call the advantage and move to keep up with the run of play. The assessor acknowledged that was the text book answer on my friend’s assessment. But he brought in the following mitigating factors for why White might want the whistle. White only had ten players available as their 11th had pulled his hammy in the first half. It was 95 degrees out, the sun was beating down on everyone, White had no subs while Blue had 5 so Blue was rotating lines every five or six minutes and White had a three goal lead. They really would not have minded a short break to let them recover a touch while also killing the clock. A public, verbal “PLAY ON” advantage call is a recognized foul. We as referees always have the discretion to blow a whistle on a recognized foul if in our opinion, the fouled team is better off with a free kick than continued play. The point is the “better off” equation may at times need to take into consideration factors other than the next three touches.