ASK, TELL, DISMISS–(old school); Verbal Warning, Caution (YC), Send-off (RC)–(Laws of the Game)

We used to use the “Ask, Tell, Dismiss” technique for referees to deal with “Irresponsible Behavior” of Coaches during matches. This used to be the process for all Referees to follow relative to the conduct within the technical area. Now, per the LOTG, we use “Warning, Caution (YC) and Send-off (RC)” approach. It’s basically the same way of managing sideline behavior, but in recent changes to the LOTG, referees are now empowered to CARD team officials if necessary, at ANY age division. We may NOT card spectators.

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.  If the Coach can’t keep that spectator in line, then the game may be delayed until he/she does leave, or abandoned.

“ASK” — now a “Warning”

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. This is a verbal ‘Warning’ that that type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

“TELL” — now a “Caution” (Yellow Card is shown) 

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 Cautioning  (show him the YC) you. That that kind of behavior must stop. The next time something like that happens I may have to dismiss you (send you off) from the grounds.”

Note: a verbal Warning does not need to precede a Caution. If any behavior merits a sanction, go ahead.

“DISMISS” — now a “Sending-off” (Red Card is shown)

If the non‐accepted action continues, the referee may DISMISS that person immediately.  “Sir, I am now going to dismiss you from the area (showing the Red Card). I’m sending you off. I will delay the restarting of this game until you have left the vicinity.  (The referee determines what satisfies the “vicinity.”)  If you do not leave the area I will have to abandon the match.”

Note: a Caution does not need to precede a Sending-off. If any behavior merits the RC sanction, go ahead.  It is within the referee’s authority to dismiss/Send-off a team official after a single inappropriate display of “Irresponsible Behavior.”

It is key to use the process and terminology so that coaches know when they hear “VERBAL WARNING” it is understood that the next step will be a Caution and possible Sending-off.  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 (YC) offense. Now the same is true for Coaches.

Remember — for players, “Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and or gestures” and some other behaviors is an ‘immediate sending-off (RC)”  The referee can immediately DISMISS/Send-off 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.”

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

INCIDENT REPORT: you will need to provide a full written report on any Red Card sanction for a team official, just like you would for any player that earned a Red Card.

Some actions that “cross the line” –Refer to the LOTG, Law 12, for a list of transgressions that merit a Warning, Caution, or Sending-off:

  •  Coach/bench personnel leaving the 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).