Referee Relations

It is a fact of our modern life that abuse of referees has become a recurring news headline, all the way down to the youth level, yet again. So, lets be absolutely clear: PCSSL shall have no patience with any abuse of our referees.

PCSSL is based on AYSO rules and philosophies, starting with Good Sportsmanship -- and any abuse (verbal or otherwise) of any referee falls on the wrong side of our requirement for good sportsmanship. AYSO rules are clear: "It shall be the duty of each coach, spectator, team member, and other participant to conduct himself/herself in a manner becoming a member of AYSO and consistent with the AYSO Six Philosophies and the highest standards of conduct." (AYSO National Rules and Regulations, 1.E.1.a)

The Laws of the Game are clear, there is no one else with authority in a game: "Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match." (FIFA Laws Of The Game 05.01) And PCSSL rules are also clear: "Referee judgement calls are final and not to be protested." (PCSSL Playing Rules 4.10)

All of our referees are volunteers (just like all of us coaches), and they will make mistakes just like the rest of us. We do not ask participants to agree with the calls that are made. We do not require participants to even agree that referee understands the rules. Nevertheless, we do insist that everyone respects the calls as they are made.

If you do not like a referee you are free to leave the game. However, so long as you are participating in organized soccer then the referee is the sole authority over your game.


Be aware that coaches are held responsible for the behavior of everyone in and everyone around their team.

Quoting the PCSSL Rules (3.01), "Coaches are responsible to ensure that their players, parents, and fans behave in a respectful manner."

It is possible that you will be required by the referees to address problematic behavior of one of your players or even one or more of your team's fans. Be sure that everyone in and around your team understands the expectations (if necessary refer them to the "highest standards of conduct" clause in the AYSO National rules) and be sure that they respect your position in ensuring everyone meets those expectations. Failure to do so could lead to penalties against you.

As of the 2019-2020 season, the Laws of the Game now directly declare that coaches can receive both yellow and red cards -- and further, that in the case that a referee cannot identify the offender (such as when an unknown spectator is misbehaving) the head coach is the person who will receive the card. As with all cards shown during our games, PCSSL will honor the cards shown -- so it is possible that coaches will need to miss one or more games if they (or their spectators) receive a red card or accumulate yellow cards during a season.

Handling Disputes

If there is a dispute regarding a referee's decision, we recommend asking the referee a question about this issue, after the game is over but before the referee leaves the field (note: until the referee leaves the field they still have the authority and the direction to take further disciplinary action, so any questions need to be raised with care and respect -- in some cases it may be wise to have your assistant ask the question for you...)

Any concerns about the decisions or about the qualities of a referee should be brought to the attention of the PCSSL Director.


One of the key roles of any coach is to be a model for the attitude and behavior of the players. Even if the referee's decision is all wrong, is yelling at a referee the behavior you want to model for your players? Is that really what you want to teach kids how about they should handle disagreements?

Finally, consider that your role as a coach is basically impossible unless your players listen to you. And yet, the more that you argue with a referee, the more you are showing that you explicitly advocate questioning the declared lines of authority -- and hence, by your own actions, you are also providing your players with solid reasons to question your authority over them.

Bottom Line

PCSSL does not ask any coach or player or spectator to agree with a referee's call (we do not even ask that you agree that the referee knows the rules). We do insist that everybody respects the call as it was made.

Honor the game.