How to Deal With Noisy/Obnoxious Spectators

At some point in every referee’s career, they will come across a group of parents or spectators that are loud and rather rude. Some referees are exceptionally good at dealing with this and others are not as experienced. Most new referees start off working youth matches, where the parents can get really loud and try and make their opinion heard to everyone, although they are most likely not knowledgeable on the Laws of the Game. First off, there are limited options as to what a referee can do to reprimand a spectator for abusive language or just overall being a jerk. The first step the referee should take is to try and ignore the comments if they are annoying, not hurtful in anyway. If comments from the spectator are determined by the referee to be over-the-top or abusive, the referee should ask the spectator to “calm down” or “quiet down.” If, after this, the spectator does not stop their abuse, the referee can ask the spectator to leave the field and its immediate surroundings. If the spectator refuses to leave, the referee should ask the coach of the team that the spectator is supporting to encourage the spectator to leave. If the spectator still refuses to leave, you should inform the coach that if the spectator does’t leave, the match will be abandoned and the league or tournament coordinators will determine the outcome. Typically, the spectators will eventually leave, but in the rare case that they don’t, you are now prepared to handle it.

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