Handling Spectator Abuse
To: Maryland Referees
If the verbal statement or gesture is abusive enough to be misconduct by a player or a coach and the spectator does it loudly enough to distract (much less scare) you, that is enough. You do NOT have to identify the spectator. Identification is the administrator, team official or coach’s job.
1. If the conduct would warrant a yellow or red card for a player or coach, at the next stoppage, meet with both coaches together and ask them to identify the abusive spectator. Ask that they insist that the spectator limit themselves to positive comments about the players. When satisfied with the coaches’ efforts, thank the coaches for being responsible and restart play.
2. If the conduct is repeated, stop play again. Meet with both coaches again and inform them play will resume after they have asked the abusive spectator to leave and the spectator has left the sight and sound of the field. When satisfied with the coaches’ effort and the spectator’s distance, thank the coaches for being responsible and restart play.
3. If the coaches say there is a team liaison, monitor, manager, field marshal, or other administrator to do this, ask them to please locate this individual and request that they appropriately handle the spectator situation.
4. If the coaches or spectator don’t comply, terminate the match and leave the field. Report it all to the assigner. The league and the MSYSA Adjudication Committee need your report to do anything further.
This 4-step course of action is a suggested method of dealing with this type of situation and is approved and supported by the Maryland State Referee Committee. Understand that you are not required to follow all 4 steps. If the conduct warrants it, you may have the spectator removed at any time. As an A/R, you need to inform the Referee if spectator issues arise. As a Referee, you must protect your A/R.
Please remember, as a Referee, you are expected to act in a professional and respectful manner at all times. In addition, referees also deserve that same respect regardless of their experience level.