Do Referees Have too Much Control In a Soccer Match?

Don't mess with this ref! - (Photo:

Blaming the referee is a consistent excuse for soccer teams that lose, ranging from U-7 Recreational matches to high profile World Cup matches.  It seems that the opposing team cannot really beat you; it all comes down to the referee.  But is that statement a bit childish and simply the result of people placing blame elsewhere?  Of course it is!  But nevertheless, the referee does have the opportunity to make a huge impact on any soccer game, and that is often part of the fun and excitement in the sport.

Calls by a referee can play a huge part of how any particular soccer game turns out.  Making their task even harder is that they have to watch the actions of 22 players, many of whom will dive or harass the referee into making calls in their favor.  With 20,000 screaming fans ready to bite the ref’s head off if he makes the wrong call, the task of refereeing a game can be rather daunting…

But a referee makes calls based on the actions in the game, meaning that if you go in hard for a challenge, you run the risk of giving up a foul or even getting sent off with a red card.  Naturally, you shouldn’t let the fear of a foul limit how you play soccer, but you do need to have a basic understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t.  The main concept players should grasp?  Play the ball and not the man.  Don’t shove people, don’t kick people, just try and win the ball.  This way you’ll avoid giving up fouls and penalty kicks, and you’ll also avoid getting into situations where the ref could possibly make a call against you.

Penalty kicks are often the reason that a team cries foul over the referee.  A penalty kick can have a huge effect on any soccer match and the manner in which they can be given can leave players and fans fuming over the referee.  People must understand that the referee is a human being, and as such the manner in which they make such calls can be subjective.  Some referees view an incidental handball as a clear penalty, while some do not.

Another issue often seen with referees is how they call minor fouls throughout a game.  If a referee doesn’t show the confidence to make minor calls, players will often get rather violent with one another.  This can cause a referee to lose control of a match and often results in red cards flying.  The important thing for a referee is to show consistency with the calls they make.

One thing I like to think about whenever a team blames the referee for their most recent loss is how much the ref really played a part.  If your team loses by 1 goal to a shaky penalty kick decision, there is a great possibility that the referee will be blamed for the loss and the players will go home in a sour mood.  But really think about it: was your team that much better?  Had the call not gone against you, you still would have only managed a draw.  If your team was so great, shouldn’t you have been up by 3 or 4 goals making the errant penalty call practically meaningless?  As much as you want to blame the ref, there’s really no one to blame but yourselves when you lose a game.


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