Yes this happened!

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Yes this happened!

source: CMSA


I have been refereeing since 1993 and have officiated over 4000 games. I have also coached over 850 games since 1992. Since joining CMSA in 2010, I have become aware of truly unfortunate situations that occur within the game of soccer in Calgary. Most games are fun and entertaining for everyone involved. The fans cheer at the top of their lungs, coaches convey tactical messages to their team and players enthusiastically respond by playing with speed, finesse and skill. Then, there are the other games – where players try to live up to parents’ unrealistic expectations and coaches exhibit disappointment with their team through negative and discouraging comments that destroy their player’s self-confidence. To make matters worse in these situations, both coaches and parents display a dismal lack of respect for youth referees, to say the least. I will be posting these stories and events to let you know what goes on in front of your child’s eyes in the hope that you may give some serious consideration as to  whether or not we want to see this kind of behavior in the game of soccer. The short stories posted below are actual accounts of soccer games that have taken place in Calgary – with the identities of players, teams and clubs undisclosed. Stories will be posted periodically. The two teams involved will be named a white team and a black team.
Brian Wilkens
Referee Mentor, Coordinator and Discipline
Calgary Minor Soccer Association


July 25
CMSA meetings promoting respect for referees
I am writing as a concerned parent regarding the display of poor sportsmanship of the two opposing coaches, one adult female and one adult male. The first concern is that both of the coaches consistently barraged the referee of the game with questions and challenges regarding the game and calls. The yelling and questioning of the referee set a very poor tone to the game. Had the referee been younger or less experienced individual, these actions and questions could have had a very negative impact on their willingness to continue refereeing. I recall from past CMSA meetings that the preservation of referees is an important aspect of the CMSA’s work and the behaviour of these two adults was clearly contrary to the CMSA objective of promoting respect for referees.
Also of concern was that at least one of the adults in question, at points in the game were also mocking the opponents keeper in response to her giving direction to her players. For example when the keeper yelled to her team to spread out, one of the adults yelled out that they can’t spread out because the field is too small. No doubt this was related to their dissatisfaction with the size of the field which was also expressed during other times of the game. However, to express this in a mocking way to a younger player exhibiting teamwork and leadership is completely unacceptable and was unsettling to the keeper and teammates.
One of the points of contention from the female coach (inappropriately vocalized at different times throughout the game) was that the length of play should be 35 minutes for U12 but it clearly states that it is 30 minutes per half for U12.

There is a line drawn in the sand for coaches, parents and referees. When coaches’ coach and referees ref, the game can be quite fun. When coaches and parents cross the line and start refereeing, this is where controversy and unpleasantries ruin the game for the kids.

May 10
Two sides of a referee
Side one
Teams from all over the area gathered there to play local youth matches, some bringing a small crowd of supporters who line the field. Close to kick-off time for one particular match, a small figure strode out towards the center circle, blowing his whistle to get the attention of the players. Impatient with their apathetic response to his imperious blast, he blew it again, adding some shouts to various players to get over to where he stood. Finally a couple of players strolled over, one in green and the other in blue. “What’s up, ref ?  You need a couple of AR’s ?” ” Yes I do. Get them over here so I can instruct them. And call your players so I can inspect their boots.” “Sure ref, hey lads, come over here, The bloke wants a word.” “Alright gentlemen, please be quiet and listen. I am the referee today. I only want the captains to talk to me. Is that understood? Now here is what I expect of you. You must retire 10 yards on free kicks or I will book who doesn’t get back. Anyone who questions me will also get booked, is that clear? I’m not paid to take alot of rubbish from players.”
Side two
On the same weeekend, two U18 teams warmed up for their first match. A few minutes before kick off, the referee and his two young AR’s walked out to the middle of the field where they stood for a few minutes chatting. A few players noticed them and called for the captains. The captain from both teams came over and the referee held out his hand. “Hi, I’m Fred and these are my two AR’s. It’s nice to see you again. Didn’t you guys play each other a few weeks ago? 3 – 3, wasn’t it and I heard it was a great game? When I got this game I hope it’s going to be a great game again. It’s a beautiful day so enjoy yourselves. If you want something explained, just ask, OK? As the players changed ends, he was looking at the boots of all the players noting all the brand names they were wearing. Because the ground was hard, they were all wearing molded soles with multi studs. Then he notcied one player with a small cast on his arm and stroled over to him to ask how he broke it. “I broke a bone in my wrist falling off a trampoline.” “I said better stick to soccer.” “Thanks ref, a couple of weeks and it’ll be out of a cast.” I checked the cast and told him, “You’d better be carefull and no backflips if you score.” “Oh sure ref.”
As the AR’s were checking the nets, the ref walked over to the coaches and said,”theres a bit of a bother with substitutions lately so the league wants me to clean it up. Can you help me with that? Make the subs wait until the player is off before the sub comes in. Great, have a good game.”

I think Side two is what teams and coaches prefer so keep this in mind.

January 06
Two coaches vs youth referee.

In the first half, the black team’s parents were criticizing the calls and so were the black team’s coaches. One call, which easily could have gone either way, was called as a charge on the black team, which had the two coaches raising their voices toward the referee, which was the only questionable call in the first half. The first half was all the black team, score was 4-1. Around 5 minutes in to the second half, there was a 2 on 1 going down towards the black teams net, and the defender made a play on the ball, and in doing so was injured, and went down. Seeing as he went down around the top corner of the box and white team had the ball, the ref let the play continue. Nearly right after that, the white team scored, which brought both black teams coaches out of the box (without being signaled to come on) and paid little attention to the boy on the ground, and got up and in the face of the referee, loudly criticizing his calls, saying “it’s complete ******** “open your &%$# eyes ref!” “Oh ref you’ve got to be &%$# kidding me!” And so on, right in the middle of the pitch while the team is still on the field. The white teams coach offered the black teams coach ice for the injured player, to which the black teams coach declined. After the first black teams coach declined, the second coach came over to the side of the bench and said “What’s he saying? No, we don’t want your &%$# ice” to which the white teams coach replied “you are an ignorant turd” which did manage to get a mumble about shoving something, I could really hear it. For the rest of the game, the black teams coaches would remark that “I’ve never seen something like this”, “this is the worst ref I’ve ever seen” and so on. The final score was 6-4 for black team. When both coaches came to get their cards and game sheets, they had an argument about what the right call was, with the black teams coach being very angry at the ref, who was signing game sheets at the time. In the middle of the yelling, he was interrupted by the white teams field marshal came on and interrupted the coach, saying “this is ridiculous, you have to calm down. That was insane what you did, it was the right call and you cannot harass the referee like that” to which got another unimportant and blatantly rude response, “I’m sure you would have reacted the same if it was your s****y son!” And then was pushed away by the other black teams coach.

Kids should never hear words like this from adults, coaches, Dad’s, Mom’s and strangers.

Novemberber 28
A referee’s first game experience.

Our daughter refereed her first 2 games tonight and had a great experience.  When she took her refereeing course, Brian Wilkens spoke to her about the opportunity to have a mentor present at her first game.  She emailed Brian last week and he assured her that someone would be there for her.  When she arrived for her game tonight, Brian himself was there to help get her started.  He set her up with an ear piece and introduced her to John, who was her mentor for the game. We just wanted you to know how impressed we are with the course she took, the support she’s been given up to and including her first games, and how appreciative we are of all the time and effort Brian & John have put in to making her first games such a positive experience.                        Thank you
NOTE:   As part of the CMSA mentoring program, a walkie talkie / earpiece set was purchased. This gives the mentor the opportunity to talk to the referee immediately as the game is in progress. The young referee builds confidence knowing they have back up in case they need the help on the field in tough situations.
Novemberber 6
Here is a referee’s account of a GU18 game.

Two players, one from each team were involved in a tackle near midfield. I stopped play for the foul committed during the tackle as both players fell to the ground. I indicated that the restart would be for the black team as it was the white team’s player that committed the foul. As I signaled direction for the foul, the two players were still tangled together on the ground. When they were separating from each other, the black team’s player was making her way up first, looked at the opponent and kicked her in the head with her cleats in a stomping motion. The white team’s player started crying as a result. I ejected the black team’s player for violent conduct and she left with no further incident. The injured player was able to make her way back to the bench.
Punishment : The ejected player received a 4 game suspension for “Kicking with intent to injure”, violent conduct.

September 18
Here is a referee’s account of a BU12 game. The referee is 16 years old

I blew the whistle for a dangerous high kick in the penalty box and awarded a penalty shot for the white team with a few minutes left in the first half. The black team’s coaches disputed my call and I went over and gave him a warning and that if he continued, he would be dismissed.  I continued to proceed with the penalty shot and the white team scored from this. The coach of the black team continued to dissent my decision for the penalty shot and said “That call was b******t” out loud. This promoted me to dismiss him but he would not leave. He said there was nothing I could do to make him leave and proceeded to make fun of my speech impediment. I asked him one more time to leave and then blew the half time whistle. I was very offended by his remark about me personally and had to recover over half time. This coach was still at the side of the field at the start of the second half. The two boy’s teams were ready to play but I had to wait 2 minutes for this coach to leave the area.

Foul called by the referee: Law 12 “Playing in a dangerous manner” An indirect free kick is called if in the opinion of the referee, a dangerous kick is observed. If the kick makes contact with the opponent, the call is changed to kicking, and now is a direct free kick which is what the referee did.
Punishment : The coach received a 4 game suspension for OIAL (Offensive, Insulting, Abusive Language) towards a game official. A 2 game suspension for being dismissed by a minor official (12 to 18 yrs old) and a 1 game suspension for failure to leave the field after being dismissed.

September 4
Team Manager comments U10 boys
I am the Team Manager for the BU10 white team. Tonight, we played the black team. Our referee was a young girl maybe 14 years old. She was extremely organized and did a great job on the field – not afraid to blow the whistle, vocal with the kids so they knew what the call was, probably one of the best refs we have this past indoor and so far in outdoor.

The other parents from the black team were awful to her, including their field marshal. It got really bad in the second half. They were all standing over on the player’s bench side (parents and players and coaches) and a number of the adults proceeded to yell at and ridicule the referee, saying stuff like “what was that” and “are you even watching the game” and more at this poor girl. As a result, she was extremely flustered and you could just see it in her face. I was approached by at least 5 parents from our team, who also overheard the comments and were concerned for the ref as well. I did go over – I talked to their team manager first since I knew who he was from handing in game sheets and asked him if he could remind his field marshal about what his job was. He said no. So I went over to their field marshal and basically reminded him that as field marshal, he needed to stop his parents from yelling at the ref, that she is 14 and this is the whole reason for the field marshal program. He looked at me like I was crazy. But I think either enough parents overheard or he did say something, because it pretty much stopped for the last bit of the game. After the game, we got our sheet from the ref. She was ready to cry. I told her that we thought she did a great job and to please hear that and just let the other stuff go in one ear and out the other. Not sure that she will be able to do that though.

I hope that you will be able to follow up with her, as this was not an easy game for her tonight. I have no idea what kind of reminder or follow up can happen with the parents of the black team, but my biggest concern is the ref and how she is feeling.
August 23
White team coach comments regarding black teams coach.
In the first game, the coach from the black team was continually very loud and aggressive towards the referee, calling for fouls or offside to be called at any perceived infraction.  He was especially critical when one of our players fouled one of his players, who was painfully injured.  That player could not continue the game.  The referee did give a yellow card to our player and the game continued, with increased criticism from the coach.  We feel that the young referee handled the situation calmly and with maturity.
The next time we met, the black team’s coach, from the start of the game, continually very loud and aggressive towards the referee, calling for fouls or off sides to be called at any perceived infraction. The match was a hotly contested affair with physical play from both teams.  Late in the game, his player was fouled by one of our players and went down in pain. The coach ran on to the field towards the referee and confronted him in a very loud manner at very close quarters. The referee, who had red carded our player who had committed the foul, immediately red carded the black team’s coach and ordered him off the field.  The coach then proceeded to call his players off the field to the bench area. The coach left the field area proceeding immediately behind our bench area complaining loudly about the way our coaches trained our players and headed to his car. His players stayed on the field and the game continued with out him.
CMSA should not allow team officials that behave in this manner towards game officials to be part of a coaching staff.  They drive referees from the soccer system and set a poor example for the young players they coach. I feel very strongly that we need to support our referees, the up and coming as well as the ones with experience. The referees are usually refereeing alone and when cases like this happen you can see how very unprotected they are on the soccer field.

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