Ask, Tell, Dismiss is an appropriate technique for referees to deal with “Irresponsible Behavior” of Coaches during matches. This is the process for all Referees to follow relative to the conduct within the technical area.

Note: When it comes to a Spectator that is crossing the line of what is considered acceptable behavior, the Referee should communicate with the Head Coach about the particular Spectator and put the onus on that Coach (or the Team Manager) to get that person under control. The Coach is responsible for his/her sideline, so any irresponsible behavior by a spectator on that sideline could result in the dismissal of that person and the Coach as well!!!  If the Coach can’t keep that spectator in line, then the Coach may be asked to leave, too!


If a situation arises where there is irresponsible behavior, the referee will ASK the person(s) to stop. “Sir, I am going to have to ask you to stop that behavior.”


If there is another occurrence where there is irresponsible behavior, the referee will inform that person that the behavior is not permissible and TELL them (insist) to stop. “Sir, I have asked you already to stop this behavior. I am now telling you that that kind of behavior must stop. The next time something like that happens I may have to dismiss you from the grounds.”


If the non‐accepted action continues, the referee may DISMISS that person immediately.  “Sir, I am now going to dismiss you from the area. I will delay the restarting of this game until you have left the area. If you do not leave the area I will have to abandon the match.”

It is key to use the process and terminology so that coaches know that when they hear “TELL” it is  understood this is same step as when a player is shown a yellow card and “cautioned.”  The next infringement/offense will be the same as “a 2nd yellow” thus earning a red card, and a “send-off”.  That person has just earned him/herself a dismissal from the area/vicinity (and the referee determines what satisfies the “vicinity”). If you know you have a match where tempers tend to run high, you may want to explain this “process” to the team officials during your pre-game inspection of the team(s),

Remember — for players, “Dissent” is a cautionable offense. The ASK and TELL are the equivalent of a ‘caution’ for a team official.

Remember — for players, “Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and or gestures” and some other behaviors is an ‘immediate sendoff.’ The referee can immediately DISMISS if,  in the opinion of the referee (ITOOTR), the behavior warranted the dismissal.  Not all irresponsible behavior requires going through the sequence of “ASK, TELL, DISMISS.”

It is within the referee’s authority to dismiss a team official (or spectator) after a single inappropriate display of “Irresponsible Behavior.”

Dismissal for non‐playing personnel should be written as “Irresponsible Behavior” and specific details noted on the game report.

Some actions that “cross the line” include:

  •  Coach/bench personnel leaving technical area (including entering the field) to dispute/dissent a call
  •  Coach/bench personnel throwing/kicking anything while disputing a call
  •  Coach/bench personnel kicking/hitting advertising boards or bench in dispute of a call
  •  Directed abusive, insulting or offensive language and/or gestures
  •  Inflammatory and/or aggressive behavior (verbal and/or physical) with the opposition
  •  Interfering with the restart of play and field players
  •  Making unwanted and/or aggressive contact with opposing players
  •  Interfering with the AR in the performance of their duties

Try to prevent having to deal with irresponsible sideline behavior by communicating your expectations politely (but firmly) during your pre-game inspections of the team(s).