Soccer Referee Stories



Instructive soccer referee stories from the experience gained by soccer referees, coaches, players and parents, as sent to®

Send us your story! Click Here: Call for Soccer Referee Stories

(NOTE: Some of the stories below are follow-on stories or “responses.” Please read earlier stories for context.)

I played soccer in Cosmopolitan League in 80s and 90s in NY/NJ area (and continue to play today at 65).
Refereed for about 8 years.  Typical overbearing parent stories.
My last year was when, in a preseason ref meeting, a high-ranking ref told a story about pre-game check for possibly dangerous equipment/devices on players, e.g. earrings, bracelets, etc.  He went on to describe a barrette that was missed by ref.  Girl went up to head, clashed heads with another and both came out bleeding, from the barrette.  (No idea whether barrette was missed at check in or whether she added it at a substitution.)  I asked if the league insurance covered the ref, expecting an, “of course.” The official (in NJ), who also happened to be a lawyer, shook his head no.  I said, No?  The room went silent.  He shook head, yes, that’s right.  I responded, so he was left to twist in the wind by the league on his own?  Yes.  (Ref was sued.)
That was it for me.  I can withstand the occasional overbearing, uninformed occasional outbursts from the sideline parents.  But no way I was risking financial catastrophe being sued by the same.  Haven’t reffed since.
PS Occasionally a parent would inquire why, as a ref, I was so unwilling to make slight accommodations say for a taped earring on newly pierced ear.  I would stop, point over to the nearby trees and say, see those trees over there?  Yes.  There is a lawyer behind every one of them.  That usually resulted in a chuckle and a nod, except, of course, if they were a lawyer.
PPS New piercings come up now and again.  I never compromised.  When confronted by a parent who might say, but the other refs let her play with tape over it, does she really have to take it off?  I respond, no she doesn’t have to take it off BUT she can’t play with it.  That is, make it HER decision to take it off or not, not yours.  (01/14/2023)