The Infamous 'Other Ref'

By Randy Vogt

Ages ago, I was assigned a men’s amateur cup match between two teams who had played one another in a league match the Sunday before. As the league game had just concluded, two players got into a fistfight and they were eventually separated but the ref did not take send off the players for violent conduct. Not surprisingly, that ref did not have a long career.

So, I was in the unenviable position of refereeing those same two teams and same two players, who would have been suspended if they had received a red card, the following Sunday. At the start of the match, one of the captains disagreed with one of my decisions so he cursed at me and I sent him off for abusive language. The game eventually settled down and we even played 30 minutes of overtime.

Perhaps the captain thought he could get away with cursing at me since the previous ref did not follow the rules and he probably thought that I would not do so either. Referees who do not follow the rules make it much harder for the other refs.

If you would like to play with that knee brace, then put on padding so that no hard edges are exposed. “But the other ref let me play without padding last week.”

You’re 6 foot tall and you’re wearing shinguards for a 12-year-old. Put on bigger shin guards so you can play. “But the other ref let me play last week.”

Your team is wearing navy blue shirts and your keeper wants to also wear a navy blue shirt with the only color difference being light blue polka dots in front. But I cannot see any color difference from the side or back of the keeper so he must change his shirt. “But the other refs have been letting him play in that jersey all season.”

I would like my colleagues to take the position if they would do anything different if they had to ref the same two teams the following week. Because other refs will be assigned those teams and their supervision of the match would become more difficult if the previous ref did not follow the rules.

I have been refereeing a futsal league since its inception nearly two decades ago and have noticed an interesting phenomenon. When I referee the same teams every week, the teams eventually adjust and the disciplinary issues settle down. Perhaps a few cards in the first month of the season but just about nothing after that.

When I take over refereeing a division from other refs, there are many more disciplinary issues the first few weeks after I take over. For example, I watched a boys U-18 team easily defeating another opponent before I refereed the next game. The winning team was very loud and I thought they were having fun at the expense of the other team.

Wouldn’t you know that I refereed the same team the next week and one of their players was sent off rather early in the game for abusive language? And when I refereed the team they had easily defeated a couple of weeks later, there was some ill will between teams, partly because the previous ref did not try and control their excessive comments.

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 8,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. In his book, "Preventive Officiating," he shares his wisdom gleaned from thousands of games and hundreds of clinics to help referees not only survive but thrive on the soccer field. You can visit the book’s website at

10 comments about "The Infamous 'Other Ref'".
  1. The Dude, November 6, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.

    Glad, I no longer play. Shin guards are too small.. really????? Can you say give a man a little power and he now thinks he is king!!!!

    Knee brace, wow, have not folks been wearing those plastic braces without covering them up since 1980s????? And have you ever seen one be injured by another's brace? Odds are I doubt it.

    Please come up with better examples because your examples make you sound like a mall cop.

  2. Leslie Mohacsy, November 6, 2013 at 12:25 p.m.

    To the dude;
    If referees do not follow the rules of the game, it can get chaotic for every one concerned. Than it will look like a flee market where everything is put together haphazardly.

  3. The Dude, November 6, 2013 at 12:29 p.m.

    I agree leslie, but he sounds like the type of ref that takes his power a bit too far and thinks people are there to watch him ref. Getting pissy about one's size of shin guard, really????? and like I said, folks have been wearing knee braces forever. And he could not wait to hand out cards and even says such when he moves to a new league. Sorry, just seen to many of these type refs mess up a game and even more so a game for kids to play not for adults to make money off of kids playing.

    But I do get your point and agree. Just not his.

  4. Andrew Bermant, November 6, 2013 at 1:20 p.m.

    Randy, last weekend I refereed a BU17 game and during the game one of the defender's loudly "wowed" and cheered a teammate on for "schooling" an opponent. My action: at the next stoppage, I gave the defender a verbal warning that such "support" was unsporting behavior and would be sanctioned if it happened again. He asked why and I told him it was excessive and taunting. It is imperative that referees, especially at the youth level, work to create a consistent application of the Laws of the Game so to control the game and the environment for the the betterment of the game.

  5. Jim Cross, November 6, 2013 at 1:23 p.m.

    Hey Dude, Hang around and read some of Randy's other stuff. He has a lot of wisdom. His point about the "other ref" is well said. The problem of inattentive lackadaisical refs who don't keep up their skills is far more prevalent than those who are power tripping.

  6. R2 Dad, November 6, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.

    Good points, RV. We continually struggle with this issue of the uniform application of the LOTG.
    The Dude mentioned adults making money off of kids matches, so I would like to set this straight. Refereeing youth matches is more a religious calling than power play. The payment might be good for young referees but amounts to gas money for adults. Any adult referee who starts out a bossy jerk either doesn't last long (ie leagues and assignors won't give them matches), or is converted over time into a responsible referee. The game is humbling that way.

  7. The Dude, November 6, 2013 at 2:25 p.m.

    R2 Dad, My apologizes. I did not mean the refs regarding the income part. I have an issue with all these adult "coaches" making money off of kids trying to play a game. I was attempting to say it is a game for the kids, not the adults to destroy. We all have bad ref tales, but until I see a player play a perfect game or a coach coach one, I will not expect the ref to ref a perfect game. I"m in the ref's corner, just can't stand the refs that give out cards like candy (there are much better ways to control a game), power hungry or think we are there to watch them ref.

    Jim, I'll keep reading his material, and I'm sure you are correct. I just don't buy his examples. Which is funny cause I always tell people not to focus on the example, but the meaning...hahahhaha Guess I should follow my own heed. Cheers!

  8. Ginger Peeler, November 6, 2013 at 3:06 p.m.

    I'd just like to add a bit. Both my children were referees and I sat in on some of their classes. One of the points the instructor kept repeating was that the ref is responsible for the safety of the players. We all know of players who've ended up with broken legs even when wearing the right size shin guard. If someone is injured by another player's knee brace, who is responsible? Even though most players have signed release forms, that doesn't stop some people from suing. It is best to be cautious and follow the rules, than risk any players health and safety. On a different note, I continue to be amazed by the way the MLS refs allow players to get in their faces! Most of them have far more patience than the rules require. And I'm not a lip reader, but it's quite clear what some players are saying to each other. Again, such action could easily rate a yellow card...but usually it is allowed by the ref (or else he's deaf).

  9. Dale Berry, November 7, 2013 at 8:43 a.m.

    Regarding comments from "the dude", it is apparent you were unaware that many leagues, most notably the national high school league have a very specific requirements regarding shin guard length. If you look closely at the most shinguards sold today they will have a stamp on them clearly establishing the height of the individual the shin guards are designed to fit. For a growing number of leagues the shinguard length must be appropriate to the players height. In these leagues, if the shinguard is too small and the player gets injured the referee will not have any insurance coverage due to not applying the correct regulations. The Game is changing the rules are changing and thus it is imperative that the players and fans also keep up with those changes and abide by the appropriate laws for each specific league

  10. The Dude, November 21, 2013 at 9:53 a.m.

    So Dale, what you are saying is kids can no longer dig 12 pack cartons out of the trash and stuff them down their socks like we did back in the day ;) Oh, the good ole days!!!

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