A situation that puts the Zero Tolerance Policy to test is when players get injured due to rough play. It’s natural for a coach to want to alert the referee to the issue. After all, as BAYS says, “Ensuring player safety is the responsibility of all adults involved with a BAYS soccer game.” This FAQ addresses the appropriate response for a coach in this situation.
1) As a coach, am I allowed to tell the referee to watch out for player safety? No. The BAYS Zero Tolerance Policy specifically says: “Absolutely no disputing calls, during or after the game, no direct or indirect remarks to the referee to watch certain players or attend to rough play.” (emphasis added)
2) If I’m not allowed to address the referee, how can I communicate with him/her? The only individuals in the game who are allowed to address the referee are the players. If you are concerned for player safety, send a message to the referee via one of your players.
3) If rough play continues, what options do I have? If you feel like continuing the game will put your players’ safety at risk, you should abandon the game. This is how BAYS suggests going about this: “Coaches may abandon their team’s participation in a match if they become concerned that by continuing with the game their players would be exposed to a risk of serious injury due to player infringement of the Laws, outside interference, weather conditions, or field conditions. To abandon a game, coaches shall call their players to the sideline in front of their bench and request that the captain or another player inform the referee that the team is abandoning the game. Coaches are required to follow the Zero Tolerance Policy when communicating to the referee that they are abandoning the game. The game shall be abandoned when the referee signals that the match has ended. “
4) If I abandon the game, won’t this be an automatic forfeit? No, not necessarily. The other team could even be assessed a forfeit. BAYS has policies to recognize that in situations where player safety is deemed at risk, teams should not be automatically penalized for abandoning the game. The BAYS Guidelines for Resolution of Terminated and Abandoned Games outlines the procedure to report the game, and possible outcomes of the game. To reiterate, the coach should never address the referee even when players are getting injured due to rough play. Instead, communicate via players, and as a last resort, abandon the game. The above scenarios also apply to player safety due to bad weather such as lightning, or poor field conditions, such as standing water and muddy fields.
5) What happens if the referee cites me for a Zero Tolerance violation in his/her game report? For the lowest level violation, level 1, LUSC will notify the coach that he/she has been cited. For a level 2 violation, BAYS will notify LUSC, and LUSC will impose an automatic one game suspension after the second level 2 violation. For a level 3 violation, BAYS will notify LUSC, and BAYS will impose an automatic one game (or more) suspension.
- Support for Referees of Zero Tolerance Policy: BAYS Match Rule 15 – Support for Match Officials
- Guidelines to refs for game reports: BAYS Zero Tolerance Rating Guideline for Game Reports
- Game feedback for sportsmanship and referee issues: Login in to bays.org using your coach login (ask Registrar). Click on “Game Feedback”.
Lexington United Soccer Club July 2015, last revised June 2023