Over the past weekend many games throughout Arizona had to be cancelled due to a shortage of certified referees. This situation is not unique to Arizona, as everywhere throughout the US games are being cancelled or played with no referees. This is a situation that has come about due to many factors, the least of which include:
- Constant and incessant verbal and at times physical abuse referees endure from parents and coaches
- COVID – with the past year bringing its challenges some referees did not recertify last year and again this year.
- The increase in total games every weekend. From tournaments to the various leagues that have come to youth soccer this creates far greater demand and limits the ability to efficiently schedule games and referees to maximize the referees that do exist.
- 63% of all referees in Arizona are under the age of 18. This means that many are also playing so they aren’t available to referee consistently.
- 21% of all referees in Arizona are over 40 years old.
- 76% of the entire referee pool lives in Maricopa County.
We need everyone to step up and be better. Here is what is needed:
- Club leadership must take greater accountability in being present and active in taking action when their coaches, parents, and/or players act irresponsibly and abusive.
- Coaches need to take the lead and demonstrate appropriate behaviors and DEMAND it from their parents and players.
- Team Managers need to take more accountability for holding parents responsible for poor and inappropriate behavior.
- Parents need to hold each other accountable for poor and inappropriate behavior. Most parents on any given team are usually embarrassed by poor behavior of others. It is time they spoke up and held other accountable
- Every Club and/or team require two parents, not just players to become referees. They can register for a class here https://www.azref.com/getting-started
While it is everyone’s intention to ensure every game gets played the issues currently at hand have created a situation where games are having to be postponed and cancelled. ASA will review currently scheduled games to determine if there are additional changes that may be required to leverage the existing referee pool more efficiently and appropriately.
ASA will be working closely with the State Referee Committee to determine the best steps to increase the referee pool and create development opportunities for those referees. It is important to point out that no other soccer organization in the country is putting efforts to reduce and solve this problem. Quite honestly, the only organization that is invested and works to support the clubs, teams, players, coaches, referees, and families in Arizona is ASA. ASA is fortunate to have a tremendous working relationship with the State Referee Committee and over the past two years they have implemented continuing education, development, and mentoring programs with a maniacal focus on supporting and developing referees at all levels.
ASA is far from perfect, and this year has started off rough. But you can trust that the Board and Staff are absolutely committed to doing the best we can and want the best for all of soccer throughout Arizona. If you can please register to become a referee in Arizona at https://www.azref.com/getting-started