The recently implemented Respect & Etiquette Policy program (REP) received a thumbs up from many participants at the EDP Cup Spring on Memorial Day Weekend. Coaches, players and referees chimed in on the new regulations at Tuckahoe Turf Farms. Game officials welcomed the new policy that aims to educate parents and fans on the sidelines and limit verbal altercations at games.
"I think it's an excellent move to write down in a written policy that it would be a coaches' responsibility to deal with parents who become problematic during the game instead of forcing the referee to ad-lib it, specifically in a situation where the clock is running." referee George Erroude said. It's in everyone's interests to have these situations to be remedied immediately. Otherwise, the parents become the show rather than the players."
Several coaches reiterated Erroude's comments that it was all about the players.
"I think that kind of stuff has to be addressed," said Jay Witkowski, coach of the Harleysville Soccer Association's Rangers Ready Boys Under-14 team (Pa.). "You don't see it often, but when you see people out of line, it really takes the focus off these kids. It's not about what's on the sidelines or even me. It's about what these kids are doing. You don't want to take that focus away."
Real Jersey FC 2005 Boys U-13 coach Greg Ruttler agreed with Witkowski, but felt it was the responsibility should he shared between parents, coaches and referees.
"I think it's a great thing, he said. "I think there's two sides of a coin. Decorum on the sideline is obviously important. Regardless of how the game is going, I think the responsibility is three-fold. I don't like to put it all on the coach, all on the ref, all on the parents. I think everybody is equally important in teaching the young kids the right way to act. What they're trying to do is fantastic. Looking forward to seeing how it works out.
"I don't think in the games that we've played we don't see a lot of issues on the sidelines. We play a lot of really high-level games, so games can get a little testy and tense. But nobody comes to a game with a thought of being a problem on the sideline, whether it be ours or the parents. I think it's great for parents, referees and coaches to continue to stay on the same page and just remember what it's all about -- developing young players and good soccer players."
Miles O'Connor, technical director of the Milton Youth Soccer Club outside of Toronto, Canada, praised REP. Milton had three teams competing at the EDP Cup Spring.
"At the end of the day, if it allows the players to play at a certain level without that fear from the parents or sideline influences," he said. "It's a good feature to have. If we can allow the referees to get their job done at a professional level, I think it's great. I think a lot of parents badgering referees from the sideline kind of intimates the referees and the referees start making poor decisions. If we can eliminate that completely, it can only improve the game as a whole."
Forward Daniel Farberov of STA Morris United (Boys U-13), felt the onus should not be on the team, but on the unruly parents. "I don't think it should go against the team," he said. "Maybe the refs should kick off the parents and not just blame it on the team. The team should talk to their parents before the game, before the season." Well, teams should, and many teams probably will notify parents of the new regulations prior to the fall season.
"It's a really a small amount of games where this becomes an issue,” Erroude said. “You probably have hundreds of games here, so consequently there's always going to be some issues. ... Having the coaches deal with it as soon as serves the teams well and takes care of the problem rather than create another point of conflict between the officials and parents. This is not a professional event where people have paid for a ticket. They have the right to yell at officials for all they want."
Youth games are different.
"I think this is amazing because it raises the awareness of the parents and makes its players as well and coaches more responsible," referee Ruslam Allaheeranov said. "It teaches the parents to understand the game better because sometimes the games over a couple of years change drastically. The problem right that most of the parents aren't aware about that. This REP program makes them learn the rules because if they act irresponsibility, they will pay the price. Their teams and kids are going to pay the price. More and more parents are understanding the game better. The league is doing a great job in those terms. Not many leagues are doing that. It's a positive step to the right direction."
This is how REP works:
When a referee issues a first warning, he or she will ask the coach to talk to the offending spectator. If another incident happens, the game official will ask the coach to remove that spectator. If the coach complies and the spectator leaves, the game will continue without any disciplinary action to the coach or team.
If the coach follows the referees' instructions and the spectator refuses to leave, the game will be forfeited, with no discipline to the coach. If the coach does not comply, then he or she will be in violation of EDP policies and the match will be forfeited. The coach also will be suspended for two games/weekends and fined $200 for the first violation. Fines and suspension length will be doubled if there are further violations.
Repeat violations could result in a team's loss of Gotsoccer points.
Learn more at edpsoccer.com/rep.