As a soccer goal company, the team at Farpost Goals understands that excessive coaching from the touchlines and a demand for more officials is but one issue facing the sport. Yelling and screaming from the sidelines which is allowed in some other sports further aggravates the situation.
Advocates of the Dual or Two-Whistle System as an alternative to the traditional three-official Diagonal System of Control often talk about such things as “better game control”, “more field coverage”, and “more enforcement of the Laws of The Game”. The indication is that the modern game of soccer has evolved beyond the ability or capability of the traditional three officials system to properly manage a match.
Soccer’s uniqueness and enjoyment set it apart from other sports. The demands of physical strength and excessive team discipline, which some other sports require, have a tendency to detract from the finesse, individual initiative and creativity of soccer. Physical contact is expected in soccer. Fair charging that is not “careless”, “reckless” or “with excessive force” is legal and can be as physical as the officials allow.
Instead of manipulating or changing the refereeing system, understanding the game, having better trained officials and improving coaching are needed to better manage the game. Emphasizing coaching during practice and allowing players to use their skills and intelligence during the games does not sit well with those team leaders who were raised with other sports.For coaches to quietly observe the game, analyze it and look for creative ways to strategically help their team deal with the opponent, as is common throughout the world, is an extremely difficult task for many.
Law 5 states the role of the referee:
The Laws of the Game are intended that the game should be played with as little interference as possible and in this view it is the duty of the officials to penalize only deliberate breaches of the law. Constant whistling for trifling and doubtful breaches of the laws produces bad feelings and loss of temper on the part of the players and spoils the pleasure of the spectators.
Referees must use knowledge of the game and the “spirit of the game” to officiate a contest that is fun, fair and safe for the participants and enjoyable for the spectators. Soccer is a game for the players and the referees are there to orchestrate the match not to control it.
History and tradition have shown that the three-official diagonal system works because it is simple and is designed to assist in the playing of the game.
There are three factors that MUST be present for the system to work: Communication, Positioning and Team Support.
Communication: A pregame meeting is a valuable way to alert the “other officials” (previously known as assistant referees) to what is expected and be prepared for unusual situations. The primary accepted position is for the assistant referees to constantly be in line with the second to last defender or the ball (whichever is closer to the goal line). However there may be game situations when the referee and assistants need to take up a different position in order to be in the best position to make proper calls. Communication before and during the match is vital to the success of the referee team.
Positioning: The positioning of the referee and other officials as the match progresses is a critical way to properly control the match. The referee should be located where play can easily be observed and controlled, without interfering, and simultaneously be in a position to make the best use of the assistants. Eye contact between the officials is very important and the flag should be held in a position of maximum visibility so that signals are not missed or misunderstood. Keeping play between the referee and the lead assistant continues to be a basic expectation of the three-official system.
Team Support: While working together as a TEAM the officials can be effective in properly managing a match within the spirit of the laws as enumerated in Law 5. A well trained referee with qualified and empowered assistants will adequately orchestrate the match and maintain the flow of the game.
The diagonal system with three trained officials, six pairs of eyes and only one whistle has proven to be the most efficient way to control a game while allowing better consistency of calls and maintaining the flow of the game.
Those who promote additional officials with whistles should first look at the violent conduct and the good or bad behavior of the coaching staff and spectators which is in turn mirrored by the players on the field. Changing the Laws of The Game or having more people on the field with whistles will not eliminate those problems.
Still the Best Alternative (The Diagonal System of Control)
By — Pat Ferre
USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus
USSF Referee Instructor
USSF Referee Assessor
USSF Referee Assignor
District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)
Final Note: Farpost Soccer Goal Company thanks you for taking the time to read this article and Sharing it with your soccer community. Clicking Like and Commenting on this subject is very much appreciated
Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)
- Emeritus Director of Coaching – California Youth Soccer Assoc. 1979-2012
- Author – Internationally Published FUNdamental SOCCER Books Series
- Producer – highly acclaimed ‘FUNdamental SOCCER -Practice’ DVD.
- Clinician at: www.fundamentalsoccer.com
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