New EDP Policy Fosters Positivity on the Soccer Sideline
In an effort to improve the game day experience, EDP will institute a new program this spring. The EDP Respect and Etiquette Policy (REP) will be rolled out for NPL clubs in March and continue into the fall season. In 2019, clubs and teams in all competitions will follow suit.
REP encourages spectators, coaches, and club officials to provide positive reinforcement to players and referees.
“Our intention with REP is to improve the game day experience for all. Sideline comments can have a negative impact on the game, but with the support of our soccer community, we feel that REP will increase our players’ desire to express their talents without fear,” EDP Technical Director Simon Collins said.
“The delivery of REP is such that it doesn’t point a finger at or alienate any particular group. More so, it provides guidelines on how positivity and respectful behavior impacts our young aspiring athletes. Those young athletes, referees included, need to be nurtured, and aggressive language is extremely detrimental to their development. Negative pressure imposes fear and lowers self-esteem. If our aim is to develop and help young players reach their potential (and it should be) then we as educators (parents/coaches included) need to understand that encouraging comments will increase our players’ development and ability levels. As soon as a team learns to play without fear of failure, they have taken a major step toward achieving their goals.”
Intimidating sideline behavior is a common strategy used to affect the decision making of younger game officials. The new regulations aim to negate that intimidation. REP is in place to ensure that referees refrain from confronting unruly spectators directly. Instead, REP emphasizes the responsibility of coaches to make sure negative comments are not emanating from their sideline.
“REP supports the development of a more positive game day experience, aiding players, referees, and coaches in dealing with negative sideline behavior. REP is intended to be a movement that we all can and should embrace.”
Offending spectators and non-compliant coaches run the risk of far reaching consequences. Sanctions range from removal of offending spectators to forfeiting a match and even possible suspension for coaches or clubs who do not adhere to REP.
"It's not just an idle threat," Collins said. "The potential consequences can be very serious. Non-compliant or repeat offenders risk the removal of teams or clubs from the EDP league. That kind of penalty causes significant damage to a club’s reputation and its future.”
EDP has noticed a drastic increase in the attrition rate of young referees. Many young referees drop out after a year or two and don't pursue long officiating careers, and a large number of those young referees attribute the attrition rate to abuse from the sideline.
“This is an area that the soccer community can directly affect in a positive way. As participation in youth soccer increases each year, we have a responsibility to support game day officials. Without officials, the games can not take place,” said Collins.
"Young referees can drop out of officiating and choose from a variety of other job tracks that come with much less frustration," Collins said. "That's the unfortunate route some of these young kids are taking. We want to support them and keep them doing what they love to do, instead of watching them quit officiating because of verbal abuse from the sideline. Unfortunately, it's happening way too often."
The average age of an EDP referee is around 40 years old. EDP would like to see that average drop several years.
“Over the last 24 months we have noticed that some of the older, more experienced referees are looking for a younger, fresh group to come along and take over,” Collins observed. “They want to teach new officials, to pass on the knowledge and wisdom they’ve acquired over the years. The hard part comes when a young official is placed in the middle of the field and told to make fair, honest decisions without being influenced by what’s being said on the sidelines. That’s much easier said than done.”
For more information, or questions about REP, please contact Simon Collins, EDP Technical Director, email@example.com.