PRACTICE OF ASSISTING THE REFEREE
an excellent article by Kevin Humpheys - FIFA Assistant Referee.
I recommend it to all referees for understanding how important
the duties of an Assistant Referee are. It is well worth a
read as Kevin is a respect colleague and is always willing to
help up and coming referees in their development and aid in
their continual improvement to the highest levels of our
Practice of Assisting the Referee
The paper that
follows accidentally came about as I prepared to give an
instructional talk to one of the Sydney branch divisions of the
AASRF. The paper outlines and describes competencies and
attributes that appear to be demonstrated by assistant referees
who compete at varying levels of proficiency.
presumes a linear progression through each stage with mastery of
the proceeding stage a necessary prerequisite in the development
This is my
personal perception and I am sure there are many within the
Soccer fraternity who, with constructive suggestions, could make
the paper much better and, hopefully, a useful guide to all who
assist the referee.
recommend papers entitled
Linesmanship- A Guide to
Technique by Gary Power (September 1993),
Lining at Elite
Level by Eugene Brazzale
(August 1993) and
Duties of the Linesman
by Gordon Dunster (August 1993) as references
worthy of being read on a regular basis. Hopefully more senior
Australian officials might, in the future, document their
thoughts on any aspects of officiating so as to produce a
database of instructional literature for those who aspire to
follow in their path.
Level 1 -
assistant referee operating at Level 1 is one who does the
basics well. What are the basics? I have broken them down into
Historically people join a referees organisation to referee.
Indeed referees organisations are known as SSSRA or AASRF or
ASRF etc. We need to take a wider perspective that whilst
refereeing may be our preferred role, being an assistant
must not be viewed as a tedious chore to be endured.
We need to
question and understand what we are signing up for when we
agree to be available to accept appointments. I contend that
we view our appointment in terms of the game we will referee
rather than the totality of the fixtures we will be involved
in. For most of us the appointment will invariably be one
centre and one line. We must learn to enjoy running lines as
it is a part of the task for which we are being paid and
ultimately will be one half of our afternoon's assignment. I
also contend that this is a better arrangement than flying
solo, doing two games by yourself.
others as you would have them do unto you. Good assistants
make a referee look good. We all enjoy refereeing with two
good assistantsgiving their best - in fact we expect that
they would. If that is so it befalls on all of us to work
hard on the line if we expect others to do the same for us.
is to assist the referee. No matter how good or bad, right
or wrong the referee is the one running the game. The
referee must stand or fall by their own performance.
Much has been
written and taught in recent years in order to develop an
Australian technique which we hope will stand out on the world
stage as being a model for FIFA to copy. We can only assume that
the impressive performances of Gordon Dunster, Eugene Brazzale,
John Bowdler and Lencie Fred (Vanuatu) on the world stage are
testimony to the fact that the directives issued by the National
Coaching Panel are on the mark.
At the very
least an assistant at this level will demonstrate:
understanding of the laws of the game and of the
instructions issued by FIFA and Soccer Australia
line with the second last defender
the goal line when required
square, facing the field, view of critical incidents if
at all possible
crisp, clear signals made whilst facing the field of
play Keep a complete record of the game
Concentrate for the entire match
Level 2 -
skills and performances to a higher level will only be achieved
when the basics of level 1 are so firmly entrenched in our
makeup as to be habitual. If the basics are part of an
unconscious habit then I would contend that your enjoyment level
of your task is higher and that this enjoyment will translate
into an enthusiasm for the task that will enable a good
assistant to achieve a higher level of performance.
Some of the
demonstrable characteristics of assistants who compete at this
level are that they:
the referee is as much as possible throughout the match and
try to make eye contact with the referee every time they
make a decision.
a range of possible scenarios in each match situation. Good
assistants know in advance what might happen and have a
response in mind should it eventuate. Some situations to
kick at either end
kick at either end
free kick strike on goal at either end
an attacker is coming downfield towards goal
early in each half the shape of the attack and defence and
who are the players they are likely to be involved with.
are the attackers, how many, are they mobile across the
field, do they loiter in offside positions?
are the defenders, is there a sweeper, are they flat
across the back, do they come out in a rush, do they
squeeze, do they play offside?
and deal with flare ups, let the players know they have seen
them and are watching. Remember, most flare ups will arise
when an attacker and defender clash. Be expecting an
incident and you might nip it in the bud before it becomes a
critical incident. At the first chance, communicate the
matter to the referee.
being distracted by
loudmouths on and off the park
difficult running surface
situations near them such as:
correct taking of a throw - tell the player
correct placement of the ball at free kicks, corner
kicks and goal kicks - tell the player
keeping players back the required distance at free kicks
- tell the player
flare-ups - discussed above
Level 3 -
I would again
contend that before an assistant is ready to perform at Level 3
they will be able to demonstrate mastery of the levels 1 and 2
competencies. Best practice, or colloquially the icing on the
cake, is achieved when we can learn and demonstrate two higher
order competencies as set out below.
assistant will correctly and consistently demonstrate the
ability to distinguish:
the attacking player is actively offside or not
assistance to the referee and interference with the
referee's running of the match.
consider these separately.
attacker actively offside?
the help given to us by FIFA in this area I do not believe
there is a blanket approach we can take to answering this
question in a match situation. The answer will always depend
on the circumstances of each case - each situation I would
contend would need to be judged on its own merits. I believe
that it is important for match officials to be conscious of
this. Active/passive offsides are the source of much
confusion and are a contentious issue amongst players,
coaches and spectators and will always generate healthy
debate amongst referees. I do not believe anyone can answer
the question as to whether a player is actively offside in a
way that will cover the enormous variety of situations in
which the question will be raised.
suggest that we should take the issue to its extreme and be
aggressive in our interpretation and, in the spirit of
encouraging more attacking play, only flag for offside if it
is the receiver of the ball who was offside at the moment
the ball was played. Anyone else who was in an offside
position becomes passive if they do not receive the ball
subject to two qualifications:
person is not directly interfering with the goalkeeper's
ability to attempt a save or a defender's attempttoplay
person is not with another attacker who also pursues the
To do this
requires intense concentration for the entire match (and the
occasional slice of luck). You will also need to be able to:
where the ball is
who the ball is played to
whether the receiver is offside when the ball was played
raising your flag until the ball is received or about to
be received by the player judged offside.
delaying of the flag is not a breach of the law. We still
judge offside at the time the ball is played. We simply
delay raising the flag in the hope of not unnecessarily
causing a stoppage.
Do not be
afraid to push your luck in this interpretation. FIFA have
covered the assistant and his decision when they explicitly
instruct us that if it is close and in case of doubt, do not
Distinguishing between assistance and interference.
we are particularly concerned with here is fouls and
misconduct. We need to be clear in our thinking that it is
the referee who is given the responsibility to detect, judge
and deal with fouls and misconduct. However there will be
times when the referee does not carry out this
responsibility either through a lack of vision of an
incident, incompetence or a lack of courage. The assistant's
dilemma is knowing what to do when this happens.
the assistant signal obvious fouls the referee has not
there a statutory or arbitory zone of influence for the
assistant to operate within?
there certain fouls the assistant must not signal no
matter how close and other fouls the assistant must
signal no matter how far away?
what point does the assistant overstep the point of
assisting the referee and start interfering with the
referee's running of the game?
there is, I believe, no blanket rule that can be applied to
cover every situation. Each instance must be judged on its
own merits. I contend however that the superior assistant
ready to assist the referee with a signal to indicate
whether or not an offence took place inside or outside
the penalty area Make no signal if thereferee appears to
have a clear view of the particular incident, i.e. stay
out of it
prepared to be involved if you are absolutely sure the
referee has missed for whatever reason a critical
incident. By critical incident I refer to anything that
would lead to:
the awarding or cancelling of a goal
the necessary dismissal of a player for serious foul
play or violent conduct
the correction of a factually wrong dismissal of a
player either through mistaken identity or incorrect
here that the timing of the assistant's intervention is
critical. The superior assistant will signal and communicate
with the referee before the game has restarted. Further, the
superior assistant will be able to give the referee both
orally and in writing a clear and accurate account of what
the referee missed.
role of the assistant referee is to provide a service to the
game, the players, spectators and the referee. The practice of
effectively assisting the referee is not easy nor is it trivial.
accolades for officiating in any sport are few and far between.
They are so remote that extrinsic means of motivation cannot be
used to explain why some people consistently demonstrate best
practice. The reasons for best practice are intrinsic and so too
are the rewards.
referee is a worthwhile labour of love.
Give it your
best effort and enjoy your game.
Referee Australia May, June, July 1997
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