ROLE OF THE REFEREE The Authority of the Referee The role of the referee is so much more than most spectators, players and coaches realize. It is the referee’s duty to: • Enforce the laws of the game • Control the match in cooperation with the assistant referees and, if there is one, the fourth official • Check that the ball used meets requirements • Check the players’ equipment • Act as timekeeper and keep a record of the match • Punish the more serious offense when a player commits more than one offense at the same time • Take advice from assistant referees over incidents that he or she has not seen • Keep unauthorized people off the field • Make a match report highlighting any incidents The referee has the power to: • Stop, suspend or terminate the match for any infringements of the laws • Restart the match after it has been stopped • Stop, suspend or terminate the match because of outside interference of any kind • Stop the match if, in their opinion, a player is seriously injured • Allow play to continue until the ball is out of play if in their opinion a player is only slightly injured • Instruct any player bleeding from a wound to leave the field • Allow play to continue when the team against which an offense has been committed will benefit • Caution and send off players for offenses • Take action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner Decisions of the Referee The decisions of the referee concerning facts connected with play are final. Facts connected with play shall include whether a goal is scored or not and the result of the match. A referee may only change a decision that he or she realizes is incorrect or on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that play has not restarted. Duty of Care – Treatment of Injuries A referee will always do their very best to protect players from harm, but there may be occasions when things go wrong. A referee has to be really careful in situations involving injury to players, especially on local fields without trained medical staff. The advice is always to err on the side of caution. Care needs to be exercised before a seriously injured player is removed from the field of play. Referees must continue to be vigilant and accept the advice of those who are medically qualified or claim to have similar skills. There is a particular need for rapid assessment and action in cases of head injuries. If a goalkeeper is injured, it’s quicker to allow them to be treated on the field. If another player is injured at the same time, he or she may be treated on the field as well. In these circumstances, the players do not have to go off the field after treatment. In the case of a player returning after treatment to a bleeding injury, the fourth official, where appointed, may assist the referee in ensuring that bleeding is stopped. If there is blood on the player’s clothing following the treatment, this still constitutes danger to other players with cuts or scratches and the offending garments should also be changed. A club trainer who has been guilty of misconduct should still be granted permission to enter the field of play to treat an injured player. However, a player sent off for misconduct still cannot return. Advantage The opportunity for a referee to allow play to continue if they feel the offended team may be able to take advantage of playing on is useful as it allows the game to flow. The referee has to believe it would be to the benefit of the team offended before he or she calls “play on— advantage” and waves their arms forward to indicate they have seen a foul, but is allowing play to continue. The referee should still deal with any misconduct he or she observed in the original offense when the ball goes out of play. Preventative Refereeing Match officials are given special training that enables them to spot potential trouble before it actually arises. This is called preventative, or pro-active rather than reactive refereeing, to ensure the safety and cooperation of players. Referees who are alert to “hot spots” avoid many cautionable offenses. Good Communication Referees are not expected to explain or mime all offenses leading to a decision, but there are times when a simple gesture or word of guidance can aid communication. Anything a referee can do to promote greater understanding will gain them more respect and make life easier for themselves and the players. All signals given by the referee should be simple, clear and distinctive. Referees receive most publicity for decisions involving send offs and penalties, but this, clearly, is just a small part of their job. They are constantly juggling several factors at once just to make sure the game is running smoothly. As a result, referees have a large responsibility load to make sure nothing falls out of place.
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