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Talking to Teams Before Games – Argus Archives

Football Referees London

Below is a summary of the discussion that took place during the Society meeting, published in the Argus Magazine Agust 2015. AFA and Losar have been promoting the development of Football Referees London for over 50 years. We run regular practical training sessions.

The various points of view on the merits of the team talk are, none of them, absolutely correct for all referees on all occasions. It can be useful, given the right conditions, as a way of introducing yourself and your assistants, if any, to the teams before kick-off so that they have met you informally.

It can help players understand your humanity and your own love for the game and desire to help them to enjoy and compete effectively in the game. It has prevailed in Rugby football where referees were assessed in part on their ability to communicate with players, before and during the game. As someone who now always meets briefly with both teams for a talk and conducting respect handshakes before games, the Chaiman suggests several rules of thumb:

  • Chose a time which is convenient for the teams – the captain or coach will let you know
    when that is.
  • Never tell the players how you are going to referee the game – it is nearly impossible to
    live up to every promise and expectation you’ll raise – so better to raise none – rest
    assured they will let you know if you have not done what you said you’d do, and this will
    create a further management problem for you during the game.
  • Never tell the players how they should play their football – that it not your function and
    they will not thank you for it.
  • Keep the talk to simple practical things such as the kick off time, collection of team
    sheets, substitutions, stud and kit inspections plus, in my opinion – the control of
    offensive, abusive or insulting language, asking them to exercise self-control and
    advising them that you may call on their captains to help you to manage them if they are
    beginning to use unacceptable language
  • If you say anything at all about how they play the game, ensure it is limited to the
    requirements of the laws of the game and correct according to the laws and directives.
  • Be modest, sincere and utterly polite and respectful of the players and coaches – feel
    sincerity in your heart and let that be reflected by the words you choose – so the teams
    are more likely to appreciate that you really are there to help them – not to spoil the
  • Talk about them and the game – not about yourself.
  • Use a little light humour if the opportunity arises.

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