A Referee will co-operate with his Assistant Referees on the following matters which will be discussed in a pre-match briefing:
- the time by his watch;
- the side of the field which each assistant referee will take in each half of the match;
- duties prior to the commencement of the game, such as the examination of the
- appurtenances of the game;
- who shall be the senior assistant referee in case of need;
- the position to be taken for corner kicks;
- a sign that he has seen his assistant referee's signal but elected not to act on it,
- which action at throw-ins shall be the responsibility of the assistant referee, and which will be that of the referee, e.g.. many referees ask their assistant referees to watch for foot faults, whilst they look for the hand faults;
- requirements in terms of the assistant's advice on unfair play;
- requirements at penalty kicks;
- responsibilities to be taken for monitoring substitutions;
- liaison with fourth officials, where appropriate;
- emphasis on a clear, practical application of Law 11;
- who is to record information re misconduct, substitutions, etc.;
- when it may be necessary to consult with other members of the team;
- time signals;
- his requirements when a confrontation takes place;
Referees should not necessarily keep to one diagonal of the field of play. If the state of the ground, wind, sun or other conditions demand a change to the opposite diagonal, a referee should indicate to his assistant referees his intention to make such a changeover, and the assistant referees will at once take over the other half of their particular lines. One advantage of such a change of diagonal is that the surface of the ground, next to the touchline, will be less severely worn because the whole length of the field will be utilised.
Other co-operative matters may be added, but it is important that the three officials should know each of these.
The 'Alphabet Brief Collaboration’ (The ABC).
Pre-Match Briefing to Assistant Referees
Prior to the commencement of each game, the Referee will provide his Assistant Referees (and if available, his Fourth Official) with a pre-match briefing covering their duties, and to inform the Assistant Referees of what the Referee requires them to do. Amongst other things, the pre-match briefing allocates certain responsibilities, and informs the Assistant Referees where to stand and how to act in certain circumstances. The pre-match briefing is aimed at building a rapport with the Assistant Referees, which helps to build a team-spirit that helps to make officiating a team effort.
The Referee needs the Assistant Referees, and the Assistant Referees need the Referee!Regardless of seniority or experience, Assistant Referees must always accept and respect the relative roles of their colleagues, as allocated to them on the day by the Referee. Each has a specific role to play; the Referee will lead the team, and the Senior Assistant Referee will be expected to fulfil the additional responsibilities should the Referee become incapacitated during the game. The Junior Assistant Referees part is equally important (for the strength of a chain, is measured by its weakest link). It is therefore vital, that all of the match officials look out for, and protect each other.
Assisting the Referee starts early. Assistant Referees should help to create a harmonious atmosphere and show a positive attitude to their position, and to respond to the attitude and atmosphere set by the Referee in the dressing room. It is most likely that the flow of pre-match instructions will be broken by interruptions, so it is important that a train of thought is maintained.
Each Referee will have their own style on how to conduct a pre-match briefing. The content and structure, and delivery of each briefing will vary to some extent, depending on the match and the individual Referee. Some Referees prefer to brief their Assistants during the field of play inspection; others prefer the privacy of the changing rooms.
One of the hardest duties for a newly promoted Referee (when he has Assistant Referees in his team), is remembering and standardising his pre-match briefing. There are various methods that can be used to remember the detail of a pre-match brief. Some Referees use a pre-printed list, others use the field of play inspection to trigger parts of their brief.
Below is just one method that can be used. It is called 'The Alphabet Brief'. The contents of the 'The Alphabet Brief' listing shown below, is only meant to be an example, but can be used as the basis for a personalised listing to be constructed, that suits any Referee's needs. The words or content in 'The Alphabet Brief Collaboration' method can be substituted or changed to suit the individual. Once memorised, it is easy to recall the detail when giving a brief to Assistant Referees.
Instructions given by one Referee will differ from those given by another Referee. However, it is essential that Assistant Referees always adhere in implementing the instructions given by the Referee of the day. The Referee is the leader of the team. It is the Assistant Referees' responsibility to respect the Referee's wishes, and to carry out his instructions to the best of their ability.
The 'Alphabet Brief Collaboration' (The ABC).
(The words or content in the alphabet listing can be substituted or changed to suit your own needs.)
The 'ABC' method uses the letters of the alphabet as a prompt to remind the Referee of the subjects he needs to cover when delivering the pre-match brief to Assistant Referees. The letters can be used as a reminder of the important subject matters. The briefing should be conducted in alphabetical order A to Z.
The wording below takes the form of a Referee speaking to his Assistant Referees before the game.
A. Advantage: Signalling, deciding and applying the advantage clause are my prerogative. Please do not indicate advantage to players by making any verbal or hand signals. If I am unsighted and you see a foul, try to give me a 'hidden' signal that a foul has occurred. For example, by discretely tugging your own shirt. If I do not see the foul (or your discrete signal), and it is a minor foul, apply the 'spirit of the advantage clause' in your mind and keep play going when you can - and only flag if the advantage does not accrue within 2 to 3 seconds. Always try to maintain a proper position with regards to monitoring any offside infringements. If I miss your flag signal, please drop it if play continues to the advantage of the team who was fouled. Else retain the flag signal and I may either consult with you when it notice it, or signal for you to drop your flag.
B. Bench (Technical Area): How to deal with misconduct from the technical area. "Deal with any minor misconduct yourself by being assertive and polite. Ignore most of the banter. Do not get distracted. If you need to call me over, wait until play reaches a natural stop, step onto the field of play and wave your flag towards me rigorously. We will discuss what has happened, and then I will deal with any culprits - you stand near me listening to what I say, but you face the field of play. Whilst I am talking to the perpetrators, please do not intervene unless I ask you to.
Sample verbal brief covering swearing from the Technical Area: "Ignore the usual banter from the ‘Bench’ but bring to my attention any very bad language such as usage of the ‘F’ & ‘C’ words particularly directed at the Referee, Assistant Referee or players, clearly aimed at destroying the game or inciting the players. Remember exactly what was said. Attract my attention at the next stoppage in play, by raising your flag and stepping onto the field of play. I will then consult with you away from others. If I need to approach the ‘Bench’ we will do so together. You will stand alongside me, facing the field of play with your back to the ‘Bench’, keeping an eye on the players on the field of play. I will do all the talking, but listen for any reaction which may need to be mentioned in any report."
C. Corners: "Stand behind the corner kick taker on your side of the field of play, and do the same if the corner kick is taking place on the far side of the field of play. When flagging for a corner kick, try to make eye contact with me, and place your flag in the hand nearest the goal line, and in the best position for me to see it easily. Raise your flag upwards and then point it down towards the base of the corner flag post. Always flag for a corner kick, and don’t use the body language method.”
D. Duration: "The Junior Assistant Referee keeps his watch running all of the time. The Senior Assistant Referee stops and starts his watch to correspond to stoppages allowed by me (the Referee). Discrete time-down hand signals alongside your shorts are required during the last 5 minutes of each half. Watch out for me looking your way as the half draws to a close."
E. Eye Contact: "I will be making lots of eye contact with you. Let's work as a team and keep in touch throughout the game. Do not be distracted by banter from spectators etc. Keep your eyes on the field of play. If a melee of players ensues, come onto the field of play and keep your eyes on the conflict, and don't start writing notes until the incident has finished."
Note: An awareness of the position of the Referee will enable Assistant Referees to achieve immediate eye-to-eye contact should the Referee's assistance be required. Assistant Referees are therefore encouraged to ‘clock’ the Referee’s position from time to time as the game progresses.
F. Fouls: "You are fully qualified Referees, so please signal for any fouls that I have missed. Give me some indication of what the foul is, and indicate with your flag, the direction for the restart of play. If you have time, before signalling for a foul, look towards me, to see if I have already seen the incident, and am about to act on it. In other words, let me have the first bite! This is particularly important if a penalty kick is considered.
G. Goal: If a goal has been scored, make eye contact with me, and immediately run back quickly up the touchline towards the halfway line. Please do not get out your notebook, until I have clearly awarded the goal. If you believe that a goal has been scored, but play momentarily carries on - signal vigorously with your flag. I will then stop play, and discuss matters with you. If no goal has been scored (for example, when the ball cannons off the crossbar and onto the goal line, but does not enter the goal, then no signal is required from you. In other words, if you do nothing, it clearly indicates to me that no goal has been scored, and I will allow play to continue. Can the Senior Assistant please make a note of all the goals scored. I want the Junior Assistant to be my additional set of eyes during the game, and to keep a look out for misconduct following the scoring of a goal.
G......... Goal kicks: "Check that the goalkeeper has placed the ball inside the goal area during the first few goal kicks in each half - but put more emphasis on getting back up the touchline to monitor offside. Stand adjacent to the edge of the penalty area, check the correct positioning of the ball within the goal area, and then sprint up the touchline to stand alongside the second last defender. I would rather to you were in position to monitor offside, than worry unnecessarily about whether the ball is in the goal area or not during goal kicks. Use a clear flag signal to indicate a goal kick, by facing play and making eye contact with me. Use the hand that is nearest to the goal line when flagging for a goal kick, as this will increase your eye contact vision towards me.
H. Hassle: "Keep your eyes open if a melee of players develops; if necessary come onto the field of play to monitor developments. If you see any misconduct behind my back (such as a player striking another player) immediately step on the field of play and wave your flag vigorously to attract my attention. I will discuss the appropriate action with you before speaking to the perpetrators. Minor misconduct can be notified to me, and dealt with during a natural stoppage in play".
I. Inspect: "During periods of trouble, make a mental note of the perpetrators' numbers. If I have not seen the incident, you will need to be perfectly sure who the culprit(s) were, before I can take any appropriate corrective action. When I stop play, or delay play for whatever reason, try and remember what the restart is. I may need reminding when I come to restart the game!"
J. Junior: " The Senior Assistant Referee will patrol the 'Technical Area' side of the field of play, the Junior Assistant Referee will patrol the far side touchline. If I get an injury and am unable to continue, the Senior Referee will take my place in the middle."
K. Keeper: When the goalkeeper has the ball in his hands, make sure he does not step put of the penalty area before he releases the ball. But place more emphasis on gaining a position to watch out for offsides, when the ball is punted up field by the Goalkeeper. I will deal with the goalkeeper's 6 seconds possession time limit."
L. Log: "The Senior Referee will make a note of the which team kicked off in the first half, the score, and cautions/sending off details etc. The Junior Referee should always keep his eyes on the field of play, and is not required to make any notes during the game."
M. Meet: "We will walk out together as a team with both of you either side of me with your flags held in the outside hand; and when we get about 20 metres onto the field of play, please break away and check the nets, then meet me in the middle to welcome the captains, and complete the coin tossing ceremony. At the end of each half, sprint quickly to meet me on the field play - and we will make our way off the field and towards the changing rooms as a team."
Note: When match officials enter the field of play for the first time, players will form an impression of how the match officials intend to approach the game. It is therefore important, to ensure that the players are given a positive impression of the commitment of the match officials. A clear indication of a professional dedicated team, is first shown when the match officials enter and leave the field of play together as a team. Entry on to the field of play should be in accordance with the Referee’s instructions and always in a dignified manner. The Referee will usually require his Assistant Referees to inspect the nets, be present to witness the pre-match ceremony and then to make their way quickly to their assigned patrol path. It is especially important that Assistant Referees make their way quickly to the Referee at half time and at the end of the game. It may assist the Referee if more than one match official hears and records any comments that may be made by players at half-time or the conclusion to the game, or by members of the management team at the touch line. Assistant Referees should always refrain from passing comment on any aspect of the game, solicited or otherwise, until they have taken the opportunity to consult with the Referee in the privacy of the match officials’ dressing room.
N. Net: After the coin tossing ceremony, check the goal nets and make your way to your respective touchlines in readiness for the start of the game. If one of you has completed your net check before the other, wait (by finding something to double-check) and then come back to the centre of the field together. Please complete a net check also, before the start of the second half."
O. Offside: "Offsides are yours at all times. If I want to keep play going to the advantage of the defending team following an offside flag signal, I will acknowledge you with a raised arm (demonstrate). If I completely miss an offside flag, keep the flag raised until I notice it - OR - if play breaks to the advantage of the defending team, drop your flag and allow play to continue. Let me know at the end of each half - if I have missed any of your signals. When you signal for offside, raise your flag high, make eye contact with me, and then lower your flag to indicate where the offside was located. Retain your flag signal until the ball is positioned correctly and then make your way to your restart position."
P. Penalties: "On most occasions, I will probably award a penalty before you indicate. So before you signal for a penalty, look to see where I am, and if I have seen the incident, allow me the first chance to make the decision to award the penalty or not (if I have not already done so). If the incident occurs out of my sight or if I am a long distance away, make sure you are 100% sure that it is a penalty before you signal. Please don't signal for a penalty kick by placing your flag across your chest. Signal by raising your flag high and agitating it to indicate that a foul has occurred. When I stop play, I will look over to you. If you believe the incident to be a penalty kick offence, take a discreet side-step towards the goal line to indicate that the foul occurred inside of the penalty area. If the foul was outside of the penalty area, take a discreet side-step towards the halfway line. I will then take the appropriate action; taking into account both what I have seen of the incident, and by reading your signal and body language communication to me. If I need to confer with you, I will come over to discuss the matter further."
Note: The subtle flag-and-sidestep method described above indicates to the Referee, that the Assistant Referee believes the incident is a penalty kick offence (or not). BUT it also allows the Referee to make up his own mind, and subtly overrule the Assistant Referee, if he disagrees (it also gives the Referee a chance to go and speak to the Assistant Referee to clarify details, before awarding a penalty). Using this method can prevent a serious situation arising where the Assistant Referee signals for a penalty kick by placing the flag across the chest, but the Referee who has seen the incident from a different angle, disagrees.
"Whilst the penalty is taking place, position yourself along the goal line, on the intersection of the goal line with the goal area line. You will act as goal judge, and to check that the goalkeeper has not stepped off the goal line prior to the ball being kicked. If you have seen an infringement during the taking of a penalty kick, remain standing perfectly still where you are; this will indicate to me, that you have seen an infringement. If the goalkeeper had moved off his goal line before the ball was kicked, and a goal was not scored, when I look at you, take a discreet step sideways onto the field of play. I may discuss matters with you before making a decision. If the penalty has been taken correctly, make your way quickly backwards to your touchline by the shortest practicable route."
Q. Questions: "Let me have any questions at the end of my briefing, and if my instructions are not clear, please stop me, and ask me to clarify".
R. Right Wings: "Patrol the touchline adjacent to the right wing positions, and stay in this same position, on the same side of the field of play in the second half".
S. Substitutes: "The Senior Assistant Referee will deal with all substitutions. Ensure that substitutes enter at the halfway line, and not until the outgoing player has left the field of play. Check for jewellery and inspect the boot studs, before a substitute comes onto the field. Keep a note of the substitutes names and numbers; and we will all double-check that we have the same names of the substitutes in our notebooks, before we leave the changing room."
T. Throw-ins: "You watch for feet faults, and I will inspect arm faults. If you are unsure of which way to award a throw-in, just raise your flag straight up. Make eye contact with me, and I will then make the discreet direction signal with my hand, and we can then signal in the same direction. If you signal one way, and I signal the other, please drop your flag immediately, and the throw will be taken in the direction eventually given by me. (This is not done to undermine you, or to say that you were wrong and I was right, it is done to avoid any confusion, and to minimise any show of team weakness). When the first throw-in of each half occurs, we will use it as a means to 'BOSS' the game. Make a sharp signal, instruct the player to take it from exactly the right place, and keep a close eye on proceedings. In other words, we will use this as an early (harmless) example to demonstrate that the Laws must be adhered to."
U. Ultimate control. ......... 'Ten Minute Refereeing': "The first 10 minutes of a game; the five minute period immediately before and immediately after half time, and the last ten minutes of the game normally contain a large proportion of problems. I intend to Referee these periods more strictly than others. An arm down-stretched with the hand clenched into a fist will tell you that I intend to take stricter control of the game during those periods (or during the next ten minutes if tighter control is needed during any time in the game). During these periods of tighter control, you will also be expected to follow my example by strictly applying the ‘Letter of the Law’ when making decisions whilst patrolling the touchline. An arm down-stretched with the fingers outstretched tells you that I have reached the end of a ‘Ten Minute Refereeing’ tight control period, and that I will be officiating in a more relaxed and tolerant way. It is important that both of you follow my lead. It is no good if I tighten down on control in a game, if one of you is doing the opposite. I may also use this signal to retain control of the game after a flash-point."
V. Vigilance: "Please concentrate 100 percent throughout the game, and do not be distracted by comments from the crowd behind you. If the ball goes over the touchline near you, leave it for the players to fetch, even if it is close by; I want your eyes to be focused on the players at all times.
Note: There may be times when, because of the Assistant Referee's designated patrol path, they cannot move away from a source of confrontation. In other words, an Assistant Referee is always in the firing line for abuse, but unlike the Referee, is unable to sprint away to minimise trouble. In these situations they may need to seek the assistance of the Referee. However, there will usually be many opportunities for Assistant Referees to deal assertively with challenges to their authority without reference to the Referee. Possible responses will range from: totally ignoring a remark, through quiet but firm approaches, to a strong warning that the Assistant Referee will be left with no alternative but to involve the Referee if the misconduct persists.
Assistant Referees should never make a comment that may commit the Referee to a particular course of action; because this may put the Referee in an impossible position, and cause unnecessary embarrassment.
W. Warm-up, warm-down: If you are able, I would very much appreciate your company when I warm-up before the game, and when I warm-down afterwards. This imparts a strong image of togetherness that we can build on in the game.
X. X-ray: I don't expect you to have x-ray vision, so please don't fabricate any incidents that you have not seen. Let me know what you have seen, and I will take the appropriate action if I feel that it is necessary.
Y. Yardage: When a free kick is close to you (and I am some distance away) and the defending players have not responded to your request from the touchline to move back, please come onto the field of play to manage the situation, as you feel fit.
Z. Zone: When the ball comes onto your immediate zone, try to locate where I am, and be more 'switched on' and prepared to react, especially if I am some distance away and catching up with play. When the ball is in (or approaching) your zone, please increase your state of alertness. Conclusion:
The above brief is reasonably comprehensive, but there are a lot more things that you could include. The above brief is just am example of how the alphabet can be used to remind you what to say during a pre-match brief. You may wish to formulate your own style and pre-match briefing content. It is best to create a standard brief to use at most games, and then add on anything additional that is peculiar to each game.
As you climb up the promotional Refereeing ladder, there will be other briefing areas to consider: security, policing, crowd control, media relations, photographers and many more topics to be covered in your brief, and you will need to read the Rules of each Competition to look out for other topics such as the number of occupants allowed in the technical area, inspecting players' equipment etc...............
It does take some time to memorise a complex briefing, so do not be afraid of writing down your briefing list on card, and reading from it in your first games involved with Assistant Referees. You will soon learn to memorise your briefing after a few games. It is far better to cover all your topics, than to try and be clever and remember your entire brief by heart in your early games. But please remember - the briefing you give to your Assistant Referees is not a list of orders, it should be a two-way communication between you and your two Assistants (and Fourth Official is present). Please listen and discuss and clarify any queries from them.
You are a team, and this is an ideal opportunity to forge that relationship.