Soccer Referee Abuse and Assault:

    - Your Conduct If an Assault Occurs

  • Never strike back, if such action can possibly be avoided. Defend yourself as passively as possible. When referees are struck, the majority of players and bystanders are automatically sympathetic toward the referee, even if they were previously hostile. If the referees choose to "slug it out", they stand to lose the support and calming influence of the players and bystanders. The referees' legal position may also be prejudiced.

  • Try to remain calm and avoid undue signs of stress. Maintain a standard of behavior befitting a professional referee. Remember that police officers are assaulted frequently, yet they react in as controlled a manner as the situation permits, drawing on their resources of self-control to get to the top of the threatening situation.

  • Send the player off. Advise the captain of your decision, and be prepared to abandon the game if the player is not removed completely from the scene.

  • Get the details down on paper (when things are under control). Note the player's number and obtain the name from the team captain or coach if necessary.

  • Obtain witnesses. Consult your assistant referees, if any, or any unattached bystanders. Record names and telephone numbers for future reference. Use other players as witnesses only as a last resort. Do not be concerned about holding up the game; common assault is a criminal offense and must be treated seriously. Make notes to be sure that your subsequent report is accurate. After the game, discuss the incident with your witnesses; this is quite legal as no charges have been laid at this stage.

  • Seek medical attention if you are injured. Go to the nearest hospital emergency room or trauma clinic. The medical personnel will treat any injuries, and document them for the record. Retain any medical records.

  • Write a report. See the page on Referee Abuse and Reporting.

  • In the event that the assault is serious enough for you to consider filing civil action with the local authorities, you do have that right. Please inform the State President and the Washington State Referee Committee of your intent to do so.

Thanks to Illinois Soccer Referee Committee for their contributions to this page.


  How & Where To Report It

Jim Kritzberg, SRA

Dee White, SYRA