Of what could be close to 100 people at a youth soccer game, sometimes the only ones who have read the rulebook are the referee and any assistant referees. For the enjoyment and comprehension of everybody else, it’s helpful when the officials briefly explain hard-to-understand decisions, especially with younger players. I’m emphasizing “briefly.” The ref should spend only a few seconds explaining the decision, because soccer is a free-flowing game.
Should there be a disagreement with what the referee explained, the ref should not get into a dialogue about this with a coach, player, and even worse, a spectator. The ref should smile and restart play, maybe saying something like “We will have to agree to disagree here” would help matters in some cases.
After some of my games, people have approached me, especially spectators, and thanked me for providing brief explanations to a few of my decisions. Obviously, not everybody is always happy. That's often because the critics aren't familiar with the rules.
Examples of rules frequently misunderstood at youth soccer games:
• A player on the ground kicking the ball should not be whistled for dangerous play in most cases -- only when it meets the definition "playing in a dangerous manner."
• If a player touches the ball, that does not necessarily mean that the play was not a foul.
• Offside cannot be whistled if the ball comes directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. You are also not in an offside position if you’re in your own half of the field.• The second-to-last defender (the one before the keeper) committing a foul is not necessarily a send-off for DOGSO (Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity) as all 4 D’s must be present: number of defenders, distance to goal, distance from ball and direction of play.
I am able to make humor work for me on the field, but the only person that I ever put down with humor (self-deprecating) is myself and never, ever anybody else. Even in jest, it can be taken the wrong way. Humor works for some refs but not for others. The ref should never become the center of attention. Ditto for the coaches.
(Randy Vogt has officiated more than 11,000 games in six different decades.)