I watch many grassroot soccer games and one of my concerns is the growing amount of dissent that takes place. which if allowed to go unchecked will erode your authority and match control.

Players, coaches and spectators visually and verbally wanting to make comment about your decision making or aiming their negative views in the direction of your colleagues on the line is now a regular occurrence and frankly this can spoil your enjoyment and that of the players.

Dissent comes in many guises.

·       The open verbal and visual dissent.

·       The sarcastic comment after making a decision.

·       The player(s) that come running towards you protesting.

·       The Coach making that comment to your assistant and fourth official when close at hand to them.

·       The player who kicks the ball away after your award.

·       Parents who see their role often to question every decision you make.

There is no doubt that dissent if allowed to go unchecked by you will erode your confidence, concentration and control.

So, what can you do?

·       Demonstrate positive and confident body language, communicate with firm signals applied with no sign of hesitancy.

·       Make better use of the whistle.

·       Shout “advantage” out loud so everyone can listen and see with your signal that you have seen a foul and that you are applying advantage.

·       At the next opportunity have a word with the player who committed the offence and also the player who has been fouled, inform the player that you applied advantage.

·       That extra explosive sprint can put you in a better position to improve your decision-making accuracy and avoids leaving you open to criticism.

At the first sign of dissent, by word or action, you should take the opportunity to assert your authority.  You should take the player to one side and, if appropriate, issue a public warning informing the player that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.

Players and spectators alike will be in hearing distance and the verbal warning from you will permeate across both sets of players.

The one thing you must avoid is ignoring it and doing nothing about it.

If the dissent is open and public then of course you can act immediately by issuing a caution yellow card and sending the player to the SIN BIN.

However, that immediate complaint about a call or non-call is not really dissent, and in certain instances you may make the judgment to allow a player to express their opinion – briefly and respond with a smile.

However, I remind you that if dissent persists, or is repetitive, you must take action.

I often recommend that referees should operate a traffic light approach.



Step 1 Have a quiet word, running alongside the player GREEN
Step 2 Public warning by requesting the player and his captain to join you. Inform them that you will not tolerate dissent and it must stop immediately. AMBER
Step 3 Any further dissent the player must be sent to the sin bin and shown the yellow card. RED

•        Loud dissent from players not involved in play or far away – for example, the goalkeeper

•        Visible signs of dissent e.g. Ball kicked away after your decision.

•        The player who continues to dissent after you have warned them.

•        Anything that directly impacts on YOUR authority

Its down to you to build your reputation that you are a strict and fair official


Keys to Referee Advisor