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News - Details

Respect The Referee To Keep The Beautiful Game Of Soccer Fun For Everyone


Grand Park - Westfield, IN (May 11, 2023) - Indiana Soccer is proud to join US Youth Soccer and 15 additional state associations to launch a 2023-2024 Respect-The-Ref Campaign targeted at improving sideline etiquette from spectators and coaches. Led by Indiana Soccer, a video was created to provide education and improve awareness around this critical topic.

Click here to watch the 1-minute video.

While the game continues on an incredible growth spurt, there has been a significantly alarming reduction in the number of available referees, the majority being young players who also enjoy officiating the game. High attrition rates have been due to a variety of factors such as the Covid pandemic and commitments to other activities. However, there has also been another concerning trend that has contributed to the recent exodus of available referees.

Indiana Soccer led a research effort and surveyed every referee who stepped down from officiating in their state, and the topic that continues to dominate the resignation conversation is the negative sideline etiquette from spectators and coaches. There is a common belief that as long as the negative sideline behavior from spectators and coaches increases, the game will continue to see an alarming rate of officials stepping away from the game. Without the officials, the game cannot be played. And without playing the game, our athletes cannot have fun.

“A recent Indiana Soccer distributed survey clearly revealed that only a small portion of coaches, parents and players are guilty of interfering and abusing referees,” said Dave Guthrie, Executive Director of Indiana Soccer. “Unfortunately, these few bad actors are ruining the game for the masses. It is our hope that through education, which is what the video was created to do, the few who are driving the referees out of the game will realize that their behavior is toxic and unwelcomed.”

This education opportunity comes at a time when Indiana Soccer, and others across the country, are witnessing an alarming trend of referee abuse and assault.

“We thank Indiana Soccer for leading this project in an effort to improve the soccer environment,” said Evan Dabby, NJYS Executive Director. “We need everyone's help and kind assistance to allow officials to do what they are trained to do without interference from parents, coaches and players.”

Indiana Soccer has seen its membership base grow to over 60,000 youth players, 8,000 active coaches, 1,500 referees and thousands of volunteers through its network and leagues and more than 140 local member clubs across the state. This growth is thanks to efforts by the state association, member leagues, member clubs and also in large part to its referee community.

Supporters of this initiative are encouraged to share the Respect-The-Ref Campaign video to expand its important message. Lastly, we remind everyone once again that matches cannot be played without the hard work of referees, and we MUST all do our part to create a safe, friendly and fully inclusive soccer environment for our youth players to enjoy the game.