It’s important for the ref to be close to the ball and for the AR’s to be aligned with the second-to-last defender, but being in the proper position becomes vitally important during challenging games. After all, the closer to the ball that the ref is, the less dissent he or she will receive after blowing, or not blowing, the whistle. There’s a price to be paid for long-distance calling and it applies to refereeing as well as phone bills.
This applies even if you’re pacing yourself for other games that day. Should you have another match on the same field, the challenging game could affect the other game. For example, if players hear all this yelling and arguing while they are warming up, they could have sympathy for you but more likely they will simply think that you’re not a good referee. Especially if the home coach tells the home coach of the next game, “This ref has no idea what he’s doing.”
That very unfortunate comment pretty much ensures that your decisions during the next game are going to be challenged as well.
We all make mistakes and all have something to learn every time we step on a soccer field. If a player wants to get input from the ref, “Excuse me, sir, what did you see?” or “Why did you think that was a handball?” is seeking an answer and works so much better than “How could you make that call?” -- which is seeking an argument.
Yet some refs, even when asked politely to explain a decision, get very defensive. They do not respond to the question, instead saying, “I refereed professional games in Argentina” or much worse, “You don’t even know 10% what I know about soccer.”
One coach said to me after receiving one of the responses above, “I wasn’t questioning his experience, I was simply asking him about his call, and in a nice way.”
A ref adopting the attitude that he or she does not know everything or get every decision correct can go a long way in winning friends, especially in challenging games.
In trying to show some humor, it’s never at the expense of another person, such as trying to put down a player or coach.
If I’m having to deal with a lot of dissent during a game, there is still somebody at the field who will say, “Good call!” after one of my decisions. So I respond, “You mean that I got a call right?” and this helps bring some needed levity to the game.
One of the more humorous comments that I heard on a soccer field occurred during an indoor tournament. There are very few indoor tourneys left in New York anymore. Several years ago, I was reffing boys U-11 at an indoor tourney and just started officiating the session. I blew my whistle a couple of times during the first few minutes and the coach of one of the teams yelled at me, “Listen, I can tell that you’re a new ref because of your new shoes but you got to be better than this!”