This referee advice is a simple approach when dealing with verbal abuse that often starts on the field with a player disputing a decision. If, at any time during a match, a referee considers that was has been said is unacceptable, the referee should send the player off immediately. This advice applies equally to verbal abuse of the referee from a coach or spectator. The authority of the referee, respect of the Laws of the Game and the disciplined behaviour of both teams must be preserved.

A referee has a duty to the Game and to other referees. Therefore verbal abuse must not go unchecked.

What constitutes verbal abuse?

This is a subjective judgement. A seasoned campaigner might choose not to hear a remark that could prove unsettling and off-putting if made to a novice referee.

For all purposes verbal abuse is taken to mean:

* Vocal criticism about a referee’s decisions that may, or be intended to, undermine the referee’s authority.
* Insulting, contemptuous or course speech directed at the referee.

What to do about it

Before the match:

· Develop self-confidence and effective communication skills.

· Practice in advance what you will say when you admonish, caution or dismiss a player.

· Be prepared to take a little criticism as part of the game.

· Seek advice from senior referees regarding how much to take. In the pre-match briefing, stress to the captains that they are to inform their players and club officials that verbal abuse will not be tolerated and all verbal communication should be through them as the captains. They are responsible for maintaining the discipline of their players. Say something like’ If I have problems with your players, I will look to you for assistance’ or ‘ We are a team of three today Gentlemen, you look after the discipline of your players whilst I facilitate the Laws of the Game’

Get the captains to buy into this agreement by promising you their support and keeping dissent under control.

During the match:

Start controlling any dissent or verbal abuse by using whichever of the following levels of action you feel is appropriate, taking into account the tone and content of what was said and the temper of the game. Deal with it efficiently without going over the top.

First Level – reprimand

* Blow the whistle and call captain and player over to you.
* Remind the captain about the pre-match agreement and his promise
* Be firm with the player concerned and make eye contact when giving a ‘friendly’ warning not to repeat the criticism.
* Restart with a penalty

Second Level – severe warning

* Penalise the offender with a penalty kick
* Warn the captain and the player about the future conduct of the player and the team.
* Tell the captain that if any member of his team offends in a similar manner you will consider it a repeated infringement and will penalise accordingly.
* Send player away but continue to speak with captain
* Talk firmly (but nicely) to reinforce the warning and reminding the captain of the consequences.

Third Level – formal action

More effective measures are called for if dissent is repeated or verbal abuse is unacceptable.

* Remain cool and calm. “Captain and offender please”.
* Caution (sin bin) the perpetrator.
* Restart with a penalty kick.

When suspended player returns to the field warm him about his future conduct and make it clear that any more such trouble WILL result in a red card.

Forth Level – disciplinary action

Enough is enough. You must be effective and assert your authority but still remain cool and calm.

* Blow the whistle for the penalty kick
* Call the captain and player to you
* Dismiss the player
* Record the details: time, name, position etc
* Report incident within 24 hours

After the match:

Referees must report to the secretary and/or disciplinary secretary and verbal abuse they receive after the match from players, coaches, club officials or spectators so that action can be taken to prevent a recurrence.

This applies to abuse on the pitch, off the pitch, in the changing room or in the clubhouse.

A different form is used for verbal abuse from the normal sending off form for any abuse save that from a player on the pitch.

2012-13 Match Official Abuse Report

If the game has gone well with no abuse then compliment the captain and his team on their good behaviour.

Discuss your performance with your mentor and seek advice if required after assessing how you managed the match and dealt with any problems.


  • mcostello says:

    how do i get a verbal abuse form and when is the latest i can send it in the insident happend sunday PM

  • admin says:

    You should contact Alan Gold/ Ali Newton to inform them of the event.

    See the main post for a copy of the form.

    As can be seen from the form, it needs to be returned within 7 days of the incident.

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