I can’t help myself. Referees endure abuse for minimal pay every week. Parents (and coaches) need to stop berating them from the sidelines or we’ll find nobody wants to officiate our games anymore. But if you write a blog about soccer, you can hardly kick yourself for wanting to bust their chops a little online instead :)

Now I’m not the quietest coach on the sidelines, however I rarely speak to the ref and when I do it’s usually asking why a given call went one way or another. If they choose to answer, great. If not, at least they know I was concerned. Play on. But I like to highlight some of the stranger calls I’ve seen to see if they’re random exceptions or something more widespread. I might learn something!

Everyone makes mistakes and part of soccer’s allure is the variance of the officiating. But if I’m going to write about youth soccer, I’d be remiss to not chronicle some of the more interesting calls I’ve seen, just for posterity’s sake!


Eldest is away playing on a field that peaked at midfield and had a pretty significant decline towards each goal. Should make things interesting and fast which is good because Soccer Dad gets to be a spectator and cheer. The game is hard fought, but fair. However, two calls had me scratching my head.

First, a player falls onto the ball and sits on it for at least 5 seconds. He didn’t fall over it, he fell and sat ON it. I’m all for keeping the game going, but when a kid is sitting on the ball and being kicked at by the others trying to free it – that’s a dangerous play. Needless to say he finally got up, kicked it to a teammate (who was open since almost everyone else had converged on the scrum given how long it lasted) and they almost scored. I’m sure he has cleat marks on his behind considering how long he sat there.

Second interesting call. Eldest gets tripped at the top of the box. The official felt the trip was outside, though it looked inside. Fair enough. Direct kick from the top of the box. Eldest and his partner in crime execute perfectly with the partner running over the ball and Eldest streaking in behind him with the shot. Nothing but net. Except the ref disallows the kick because she hadn’t blown her whistle. This was a direct free kick, not a PK. Once the ball is put into position and stops moving, game on. Needless to say they missed the re-kick. Very bizarre. If you’re going to require kids wait to restart play on free kicks till you blow the whistle – you better make it clear from the start. Just saying.

That is all – we now return to our regularly scheduled programming. :)

UPDATE: After chatting with our league’s head referee a bit about this, he noted that it is not unusual for an official to allow things to settle on free kicks that are good scoring opportunities. However, he was quick to point out that if a referee plans to do this, they really need to make it clear at the start that free kicks near a goal will need to wait for a whistle. He also noted that most often any delay is due to the kicking team asking for proper space to the wall, however in the case I not above, nobody asked for the wall to be moved.