I’ve written about trash-talking several years before and I would like to add some additional insights. As soon as trash-talking starts, there are problems and the level of discipline on the field goes down one notch when the ref catches a player trash-talking but goes down several levels if the trash-talker gets away with it.
Now Soccer Americans who read my monthly articles know that I advocate using the same set of FIFA rules for all U.S. Soccer, college and high school games. Yet taunting must be a big issue in high school soccer as it’s an ejectionable offense. Hold on to that thought for a minute.
Now outside of high school soccer, when an official hears trash-talking, the ref needs to at least verbally warn that player and let everybody on the field be aware that talking smack will not be tolerated. If it continues, the player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior. The ref could also immediately caution a trash-talking player. Should the ref hear a trash-talking player utter a curse or a slur word, such as a racial slur, the player is sent off for offensive, insulting or abusive language. No exceptions!
Refs are to be especially vigilant for trash-talking by the attacking team after a goal is scored and look at the player who scored since a scoring player sometimes trash talks. Other times for officials to be particularly aware of taunting is after a foul is whistled or a player is megged.
Trash-talking is an issue with teenage boys and men. It probably occurs with females too but I can never recall ever hearing a girl or woman trash-talk on a soccer field.
In the outdoor soccer games that I officiate, I’ll hear trash talking on occasion but hear it and have to deal with it a great deal with high school-age boys playing futsal. Why is this the case? Let’s go back to high school soccer making taunting a red card offense. I believe that part of the problem here is that many high school games still use the two-referee system, which futsal uses as well. One ref is on each touchline, the players are on the field and most know that a ref is not nearby to hear any trash-talking.
The sport that I immediately associate trash-talking with is basketball and the position of the refs is similar in that they are on the exterior of the court.
I understand that the speed of play in both futsal and basketball prohibits a referees from being in the middle of the field, where they would be constantly struck by the ball. But by being positioned on the exterior, refs need to be especially vigilant to trash-talking and negative reactions after opposing players talk to one another. What has worked for me in futsal is the ref who is not near the ball to scan players off-the-ball frequently rather than staying focused on the ball.