RefSix

I’m too lenient and it backfired today

Mada

Member
Level 7 Referee
I lost control of the match today. The amount of abuse I received and the confrontation at the end by supporters accusing me of cheating is not an experience I’d like to repeat so I’m trying to take some learning points away to turn it in to a positive.

Here’s what happened for context:

  1. Penalty to the red team, the arm was raised and away from the body from a cross. I‘m sure I got this one right
  2. One tackle before half time which I decided to have a word with the player on the blue team. Borderline reckless and in hindsight I wish I had got my cards out at this point
  3. 2 players went in for a tackle, there was afters and the blue team player kicked out. From the reactions I’m 99% sure this happened but my view was obscured by 2 players right at the moment it happened despite being in a good position, I couldn’t send him off as I didn’t see it. Match control started to decline at this point.
  4. A sequence of 5/6 tackles went flying in. No fouls in my opinion but players from either side complaining they didn’t get anything. Perhaps I should have found something given the temperature.
  5. Now the real issue which was my downfall. I overruled the CAR for an offside decision as to me it looked like the player on the far side was onside. I get frustrated with CAR’s just throwing the flag up. I probably should have spoken to him but I let the goal stand. The home manager stitched me up by saying he thought it was offside and the goal to his side shouldn’t stand. At the time I thought I was right, having second thoughts now and probably should have at least checked with the CAR or possibly just gone with his decision.
  6. I was called f*cking s*hit by someone when my back was turned near the benches with supporters behind them. I asked the manager to identify the culprit or I’d card him as the senior representative. Someone in the crowd said it was him, I told the manager to tell them to keep quiet and carried on the game. No card.
  7. For the equaliser the red team captain claims he was fouled in the build up. I may have got this wrong but there didn’t seem much in it so I didn’t give the foul and the goal was scored 20 seconds later. My match control was shot to bits at this point.
  8. A couple more fouls, the game expected a card but again I gave a final warning to a player who hadn’t fouled before. I gave the first card of the game in the 92nd minute for SPA.
I’ll leave out the unsavoury scenes after but ultimately it led to another referee making sure I was ok and escorting me to my car as he could see I was in a tough spot. He said I looked a bit nervous at the end but to not be disheartened and carry on as “i looked like a referee”. I’ll take that as a compliment. Even after the game one of the home players dads (it‘s OA) said to keep my head up and the abuse wasn’t warranted. The home team were also unhappy and I had comments like ”do we have to pay for that“ and ”do we get a discount” which was frustrating. The away team manager apologised for the scenes at the end and tried to be productive. He said it was frustrating that he was threatened with a card when so much went unpunished on the pitch. I don’t disagree with him in this regard although I suspect it was to try and stop me from reporting them (i think I will).

Anyway, that’s the hardest game i’ve done to date after 20 games and at the end I was out of my depth. Not due to the standard of the game but being in that position with little experience. Everything had been going very well prior to this game, I’ve been assessed (well above standard) and the comments from the ref secretary based on feedback has been extremely positive leading to better games and county cup appointments, but today wasn’t fun at all, especially the second half.

If I was to do that game again I’d have got my cards out, slowed the game down, not allowed the game to be played how I’d want to watch it and cracked down on the dissent. The issue was more the spectators than the players to be fair. Trying to manage the game without cards did not work today and I went too far down that route and should have backed out and changed course. Lesson learnt. As I tell my kids, when you fall off the bike you get straight back on it.
 

BrumRef

Youth Referee
Level 8 Referee
Don’t worry to much about it - having an experience like this helps you learn and gives you valuable experience with what to do in the future, not all referees get every decision correct as proven in the prem today. Onto the next game which I’m sure will go well and your confidence will quickly grow. I’m sure you weren’t out of your depth, unfortunately sometimes as a ref everything will feel like it’s against you even when you’ve done a good job. Just report everything that you feel needs reporting via the WGS or whatever system you use and look forward to the next allocation
 

Eddie

Well-Known Member
Level 7 Referee
As bad as those experiences are, you’ll be a better referee for it. Your final paragraph outlines what you would’ve done differently, apply those lessons to future games and make it easier for yourself.

I found I was reluctant to card players early in, I don’t even know why, but you don’t do yourself any favours keeping your cards in your pocket.

If tackles start flying in everywhere and it’s getting a bit heated, blow for everything, pull players to the side for a little chat just to slow it down, tell them to wait for the whistle for FK’s. Lower your tolerance level- no doubt you’ll get complaints but a simple, calm ‘I’m just making sure nobody gets hurt, that’s fair enough isn’t it?’...you won’t get much of a comeback on that.

Get another game under your belt as soon as you can and forget about this one...just make sure you don’t repeat the same errors in future!
 

socal lurker

RefChat Addict
As @Eddie said, whena game starts to spiral, learn to take the air out of. Tighten up on fouls. Tighten up on what reckless is. Tighten up on dissent. Slow things down—don’t look for advantage unless it is a real scoring opportunity. Be slow to set the wall. On a foul you aren’t cautioning for, slow the restart to talk briefly with the player. These are all tools that you develop with time and experience.
 

Gamespoiler

Active Member
Level 7 Referee
There is an incorrect belief particularly with new referees that a referee has had a good game when he has issued no cards. The same referees wrongly believe especially at open age that players will respect them more if they don't issue cards.

I get his impression with your post, apologies if I'm wrong with that.

Refereeing is about managing people in the main but the laws of the game must be enforced and a booking is a booking. You make a rod for your own back by not booking. I mainly do open age games now and I can[t remember the last game I did without at least 1 booking.

Know the laws, watch other experienced refs even watch youtube training videos but make sure you issue a caution when the laws require you to do so is my advice.

Best of luck with your future games
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
There is an incorrect belief particularly with new referees that a referee has had a good game when he has issued no cards.
Couldn't agree with more. And it often is because when assessors/observers ask "could you have avoided that card?" they think they are being asked "could you have not given that card?". Avoiding it means not getting to a situation when you have to give it. But once you are in that situation you have to give it.

And the more experienced referees are not blameless either. In many occasions I have seen experienced referee in authoritive positions equate a colleagues ability to manage a game to their card count.
 
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one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
I lost control of the match today. The amount of abuse I received and the confrontation at the end by supporters accusing me of cheating is not an experience I’d like to repeat so I’m trying to take some learning points away to turn it in to a positive.

Here’s what happened for context:

  1. Penalty to the red team, the arm was raised and away from the body from a cross. I‘m sure I got this one right
  2. One tackle before half time which I decided to have a word with the player on the blue team. Borderline reckless and in hindsight I wish I had got my cards out at this point
  3. 2 players went in for a tackle, there was afters and the blue team player kicked out. From the reactions I’m 99% sure this happened but my view was obscured by 2 players right at the moment it happened despite being in a good position, I couldn’t send him off as I didn’t see it. Match control started to decline at this point.
  4. A sequence of 5/6 tackles went flying in. No fouls in my opinion but players from either side complaining they didn’t get anything. Perhaps I should have found something given the temperature.
  5. Now the real issue which was my downfall. I overruled the CAR for an offside decision as to me it looked like the player on the far side was onside. I get frustrated with CAR’s just throwing the flag up. I probably should have spoken to him but I let the goal stand. The home manager stitched me up by saying he thought it was offside and the goal to his side shouldn’t stand. At the time I thought I was right, having second thoughts now and probably should have at least checked with the CAR or possibly just gone with his decision.
  6. I was called f*cking s*hit by someone when my back was turned near the benches with supporters behind them. I asked the manager to identify the culprit or I’d card him as the senior representative. Someone in the crowd said it was him, I told the manager to tell them to keep quiet and carried on the game. No card.
  7. For the equaliser the red team captain claims he was fouled in the build up. I may have got this wrong but there didn’t seem much in it so I didn’t give the foul and the goal was scored 20 seconds later. My match control was shot to bits at this point.
  8. A couple more fouls, the game expected a card but again I gave a final warning to a player who hadn’t fouled before. I gave the first card of the game in the 92nd minute for SPA.
I’ll leave out the unsavoury scenes after but ultimately it led to another referee making sure I was ok and escorting me to my car as he could see I was in a tough spot. He said I looked a bit nervous at the end but to not be disheartened and carry on as “i looked like a referee”. I’ll take that as a compliment. Even after the game one of the home players dads (it‘s OA) said to keep my head up and the abuse wasn’t warranted. The home team were also unhappy and I had comments like ”do we have to pay for that“ and ”do we get a discount” which was frustrating. The away team manager apologised for the scenes at the end and tried to be productive. He said it was frustrating that he was threatened with a card when so much went unpunished on the pitch. I don’t disagree with him in this regard although I suspect it was to try and stop me from reporting them (i think I will).

Anyway, that’s the hardest game i’ve done to date after 20 games and at the end I was out of my depth. Not due to the standard of the game but being in that position with little experience. Everything had been going very well prior to this game, I’ve been assessed (well above standard) and the comments from the ref secretary based on feedback has been extremely positive leading to better games and county cup appointments, but today wasn’t fun at all, especially the second half.

If I was to do that game again I’d have got my cards out, slowed the game down, not allowed the game to be played how I’d want to watch it and cracked down on the dissent. The issue was more the spectators than the players to be fair. Trying to manage the game without cards did not work today and I went too far down that route and should have backed out and changed course. Lesson learnt. As I tell my kids, when you fall off the bike you get straight back on it.
Hats off to you for reflections, trying to identify what went wrong and wanting to improve. We all get one of those games every once in a while. The biggest positive is that they are the ones we learn the most from. You probably can learn about game and player management from this game as much as all your previous games combined. Most of this is self learning and being prepared for what to do if the same things happen aging. And trust me, if it does happen again, it wont be easy because you have seen it before, its just that you will be a little more prepared and more likely to react correctly.

Looks like you pretty much know what went wrong and a lot of good advise above. I will add one thing. Dissent and abusive behaviour is contagious amongst ill disciplined sides. You have three areas it can come from, players, bench and spectators. If one of them starts and you don't take care of it, it will spill to the other two. The hardest ones to take care of is the spectators as you don't have any authority over them. Your league rules usually has some guidelines (e.g in our games each sided has a named vested crowd steward) and your RDO may be able to help you with it. The very first step is, as soon as you hear abuse from the sideline, at next stoppage approach the relevant team manager, be friendly and/or calm but be assertive. Make it clear that if this behaviour continues you will report it. Its not something you want to do but you have no option here.
 

Big Cat

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
The home manager stitched me up by saying he thought it was offside and the goal to his side shouldn’t stand
As @one said above, dissent/misconduct is viral. The home manager stitching you up is typical of this, both teams are infectious by this point and they're joining forces to undermine and humiliate you. Games in which this happens can be quite common, at least in the early days
@Russell Jones mentioned recently that he has green and red whistles (I think he also has an amber one, but let's keep things simple). I have a tendency to let players kick one another up in the air and haven't had much practice with my red whistle, but its metaphorical name tells you what it's for
Also, consider cautioning for persistent infringement when a single opponent is targeted by numerous opponents, or when one teams is guilty of a number of foul tackles in sequence (someone may need to take a caution for the team to show that your tolerance has been breached).

I dealt with an act of misconduct poorly yesterday. No huge issue, but we only learn from new experiences and/or mistakes
You thought you were a referee before this experience, you are now!
 
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cdsman

New Member
Level 7 Referee
Agree with everything said above, and it also looks as if you've reflected well on aspects that you'd look to improve next time.

My only additional comment (question to others) would be - if you file a misconduct report, would the league / county look at it and wonder why there had only been one caution in a match that then led to a misconduct report? Could their view be - "you have your tools (cards), use them."
 

Ben448844

RefChat Addict
Level 6 Referee
There is an incorrect belief particularly with new referees that a referee has had a good game when he has issued no cards. The same referees wrongly believe especially at open age that players will respect them more if they don't issue cards.

I get his impression with your post, apologies if I'm wrong with that.

Refereeing is about managing people in the main but the laws of the game must be enforced and a booking is a booking. You make a rod for your own back by not booking. I mainly do open age games now and I can[t remember the last game I did without at least 1 booking.

Know the laws, watch other experienced refs even watch youtube training videos but make sure you issue a caution when the laws require you to do so is my advice.

Best of luck with your future games
This was absolutely the case with me. As a former player I communicated better than most with the players imo. But I was going way over the top with it and got drawn into believing that not giving cards meant I was having a good game. By my 2nd full season I'd gone past that stage but it was certainly there when I first took up the whistle.
 

SurreyWolves

New Member
Level 7 Referee
In my own career, you won't always get it right and the fact that you are reflecting on it is always positive. I remember back when I reffed a few years back - you have difficult games, and it seems that your downfall may have been you being too nice!

It might be worth speaking to a league rep about the issues as they might advise.

Have a nice strong drinkie (if you are of legal age!) and a well deserved rest!
 

RefIADad

Well-Known Member
Level 7 Referee
I was once in your shoes. I had a game like yours in my second year. It was an absolute nightmare, and I let it happen.

I thought about that game both as I read your post and I reflected on my game tonight. I worked a U19 boys game in a state cup competition. I had four cards in the first 28 minutes, including a coach dissent. By the end of the first half, I issued another caution for dissent. In the second half, the game was very calm as everyone realized I wasn't afraid to go to my pocket for a card. There was very little dissent from the benches in the second half. I also received some very good advice from one of my ARs about turning down my own intensity and energy a little bit in the second half, which I do think helped keep the game calm.

As long as we are always willing to reflect on the good and bad and to take constructive feedback as teaching points, we'll get better. Kudos to you for being so willing to find out what you can do better.
 

OIREF!

RefChat Addict
There is an incorrect belief particularly with new referees that a referee has had a good game when he has issued no cards. The same referees wrongly believe especially at open age that players will respect them more if they don't issue cards.
So true, I still rank my best performance as the match in which I dished out the most cards.
 

Jorik0907

Active Member
So true, I still rank my best performance as the match in which I dished out the most cards.
Although I also rank most of my games with a lot of cards in my worst ones, especially the 'avoiding' the cards. Much like Oliver last Saturday, if he'd been a bit stricter on the advantage, Richarlison wouldn't have gone off and Thiago wouldn't be injured. It's just so difficult to understand when to be strict and when to be lenient that is becomes easy to lose the game
 

one

RefChat Addict
Level 7 Referee
One easy answer (but not the only answer) is second half you are always more strict. As the game gets to the business end it get more tense and those reckless tackles start. I probably average one yellow in first half but about 4 in second half. Prob 3 out of those 4 are in the last 20 minutes. I am sure a lot of referees have similar stats.
 

Mada

Member
Level 7 Referee
Thanks for each of your comments. I've read each of them over the past few days and I appreciate the support. It seems I'm not alone having a game like this and I'm keen to get back on track next week. I won't lie that I have thought "why am I doing this?" and "do I need the hassle when I could be spending the afternoon with my family?" but ultimately the games leading up to this one were enjoyable and I felt a sense of satisfaction. One bad experience won't stop me and I'm determined to improve.

The comments about having a good game by not issueing cards are interesting and has reframed my thinking. I'd have said prior to this experience that a good game outcome would not be dishing out any cards but I now see see a different point of view.

I'm going to try and stop doing players a favour and aiming to manage the game without cards. This lead me down a path to where I found myself at the weekend and without that different way of thinking I couldn't get myself out of that situation.

Thanks once again :)
 

RefIADad

Well-Known Member
Level 7 Referee
One easy answer (but not the only answer) is second half you are always more strict. As the game gets to the business end it get more tense and those reckless tackles start. I probably average one yellow in first half but about 4 in second half. Prob 3 out of those 4 are in the last 20 minutes. I am sure a lot of referees have similar stats.

Another thing to watch for in the second half is players get tired. As referees, we know that we have to focus harder as fatigue starts to get to us. The players get tired as well, and their decision making gets clouded.

My mentor when I first started as a much younger referee once gave me some very sound advice about how to manage each half. He likened it to an airplane flight. The first 10-15 minutes, you want to be pretty tight. Just like everyone is in their seats with seat belts fastened at take-off, we want to also have everyone in control. If things are good after the first 10-15 minutes, then you can relax things. If you hit turbulence (i.e. players start to get too physical or too mouthy), then you get everyone back in their seats until things calm down. The last 10 minutes of a half (just like the last 10 minutes of a flight), you bring everything back nice and tight to ensure a smooth landing.

That has always stuck with me. I'm going to use it in my classes I instruct when discussing fouls and misconduct as well.
 

Eddie

Well-Known Member
Level 7 Referee
Another thing to watch for in the second half is players get tired. As referees, we know that we have to focus harder as fatigue starts to get to us. The players get tired as well, and their decision making gets clouded.

My mentor when I first started as a much younger referee once gave me some very sound advice about how to manage each half. He likened it to an airplane flight. The first 10-15 minutes, you want to be pretty tight. Just like everyone is in their seats with seat belts fastened at take-off, we want to also have everyone in control. If things are good after the first 10-15 minutes, then you can relax things. If you hit turbulence (i.e. players start to get too physical or too mouthy), then you get everyone back in their seats until things calm down. The last 10 minutes of a half (just like the last 10 minutes of a flight), you bring everything back nice and tight to ensure a smooth landing.

That has always stuck with me. I'm going to use it in my classes I instruct when discussing fouls and misconduct as well.
Good analogy.
 
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