Thursday, June 10, 2010

US Soccer Referee Directive: Dissent (Viewer Warning - Explicit Language)

Hey Rooney, F*%@ you too! This may have been the thought of the referee the other night when England played a friendly against Platinum Stars and was mercilessly berated for his efforts.

Recently reported on an incident of a foul mouthed Wayne Rooney during a "friendly" in South Africa that have lead some to paint him as a target to get sent off by inciting him to eruptive dissent. From the cited story, "The USA, England's first opponents on Saturday, have already suggested they might play on Rooney's perceived fragile temperament with this an indication that the player can be on edge. "Rooney insulted me," said Selogilwe. "He said: 'Fuck you.' He is a good player when you see him on the television, but when you see him on the pitch he just keeps on insulting the referee."

So lets get local about this ... what do you do when you are faced with dissent?

Remember we were talking about all these neat memorandum and position papers being online for the world to see at US Soccer. Well, here (.pdf download) is the one for dissent. It is a good read in spots, in particular it goes into the three reasons why dissent must be managed. From the memo:

• Erodes the authority of the referee;
• Reduces the enjoyment of other participants and spectators; and
• Can spread if left unchecked.

Further it goes into what three elements can be considered when determining an action for dissent. Again from the memo:

• Public
• Personal
• Provocative

Now, while the LOTG require a caution when dissent occurs, there is a subjective element when one referee feels that threshold has been breached. It can change under the circumstances, even in the same match.

Lets take some examples to illustrate these points.

In a Saturday match somewhere in Podunk USA, a player misses a shot in a one goal game and immediately after shouts "Oh (insert favorite one or two word explicative here)".

Dissent? Lets think ...

Does it erode authority of the referee or match control? Probably not.
Does it affect the enjoyment of the match for all? Probably not.
Can it spread? Probably not.
Was it public? You bet - everyone heard it.
Was it personal? No.
Was it provocative such that others will be incited by the matter? Doubt it.

Is it dissent and therefore deserves a caution? I don't think so. Just some frustration. I would probably respond by publicly jogging over and having a quiet word, maybe not even about the explicative, just to show some presence and acknowledge publicly that I will deal with it.

How about this one. In a Saturday match somewhere in Podunk USA, a foul occurs and immediately after shouts "Oh ref, that (insert favorite one or two word explicative here)".

Ask yourself the same questions as above, what did you get?

How about now. In a Saturday match somewhere in Podunk USA, a foul occurs and immediately after shouts "Oh ref, YOU (insert favorite one or two word explicative here)".

How about this. In a Saturday match somewhere in Podunk USA, a foul occurs and immediately after shouts "Oh ref, YOU (insert one minute trade without and foul language here)".

Same answer? I don't think so. I may be able to excuse the first as frustration, but the second is getting personal, and if done openly, loudly, and publicly, for me likely gets a caution. The third gets a caution. If a player can not calm himself down after a short period of time, he needs help to do so.

Last one. In a Saturday match somewhere in Podunk USA, a foul occurs and immediately after shouts "Oh ref, YOU'RE MOM (or other relative) (insert favorite one or two word explicative here)".

Here, they are done, send them home for foul and abusive language. Something so personal regardless of loud, soft, public, or not must be dealt with. To not do so invites big trouble. Get rid of that player or coach, the game does not need them, and neither do you.

There are lots of ways to dealt with these issues before they even become issues, and the position paper lists these well and we will deal with these later as well. Here is one now. Do some homework. Case in point:

Look at what the USA is planning, to make Rooney pop. Get him under a caution and you neutralize him for part of the match. Send him off and get a huge advantage.

Do you think Mr. Simon is thinking about this leading up to his match on Saturday?

Bet on it.

We'll watch together how he deals with it.

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