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The Laws of Soccer 101: The Ref

Ah, the Ref. Often the most hated man on the pitch. Certainly the only one whose performance is subject to such widely opposing opinions. After all, when every soccer match ends, fans of both squads typically walk away from the stadium cursing the ref. Of course, fans only remember the calls that went against them. The cheap calls in their favor?

Those are forgotten, just like some fans forget throwing up in the men’s room in the 2nd half, yelling at babies, and the result of the game. Refs have to deal with these fans, and – for that – I am very sorry. But, fans are just human beings, who never like someone else telling them what to do. We hate authority figures. And refs have “full authority”.

Pursuant to the 5th Law of the beautiful game, the ref (who is the main adjudicator and roams the field like a wild dingo) has many powers and duties. He must enforce the other Laws of Soccer as judge, jury, and (in the case of a red card) executioner. He must control the players, coaches and even fans. He must make bleeding players leave the field.

Seriously. He also decides when a brutalized player can return to the pitch by being “satisfied that the bleeding has stopped”. So, in addition to orchestrating just about every aspect of the game, he also is responsible for predicting whether a player has a flesh wound or a serious injury? Damn it Jim, he’s a soccer arbitrator, not a doctor!

But, like a MD who won’t let you get a second opinion, his decisions are final. So, it is important that they are correct. And who does he have to assist him? Well, his Seven Dwarves are only two (or sometimes three) in number: the Assistant Referees. Come back to STO soon to learn about the ref’s sidekicks who are dealt with in the 6th Law of Soccer.