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Every time we watch a game of soccer we see the main referee on the pitch blowing his whistle for fouls, giving out yellow and red cards if needed.
Then there is the linesman whose job it is to look for players who are off-side. But what about the assistant referee? What exactly is their job? Read on to find out.
The main duties of the assistant referee are to decide when the soccer ball has gone out of play and that includes which team is to have the ball returned to them in play.
They are also responsible for deciding if a player is offside and also helping the referee if there has been any breaking of the Law while on the pitch that the referee can not see.
In this article, we will look at what exactly the duties of the referee are, why the assistant referees have different flags and the assistant referee signals.
What are the duties of a referee?
The referees of a soccer match can act as a sort of enforcer for the game. They are charged with making crucial decisions in regard to the laws of the game of soccer.
The referee works together with his/her assistants and it is their job to check for offside and also to check to see if the game is being played in a fair and safe manner.
We will now go through the duties of the referee.
1. Making sure the game is being played fairly
The sole purpose of the main referee is to look over the match and to make sure that the players are playing the game in a safe and fair manner.
They have the authority to brandish both yellow and red cards to players who they deem have committed fouls during the course of the game.
They can also decide penalties and also have the job of keeping an eye on the time and added time as well as giving a detailed report of the match to the officials from the league once the game has finished.
2. Making sure the players are safe
Another duty of the referee is to keep a lookout for the safety of the players who are on the pitch.
What this means is that if a soccer player is either injured or has some visible blook on them, then the referee is within his rights to stop the match and make sure that the player gets the attention they need.
By the referee doing this, it helps to protect both the player as well as his/her teammates and the referee can also give out cards to players who he/she has deemed to be acting in a dangerous manner.
They also have the right to tell coaches or players’ parents to leave the area on the sidelines if they are having a negative impact on the match for example if they are being a nuisance or are not acting in an appropriate way.
3. Keep an eye on the weather
On top of everything that a referee has to look after on a soccer pitch, they have to worry about one thing that is not, the weather.
They have to keep a close eye on the clouds and the environment and have to be sure that with the current weather conditions, it is safe to play.
A good example of this is West Brom’s home match against Arsenal. It was snowing rather heavily and before the game, the pitch was covered in snow and the referee and his assistants held a sort of meeting on the ground and they would have discussed if it was safe for the players to go onto the pitch.
If the weather was deemed to be not safe for players then the match would have been called off and that decision would be made by the referee, not the coaches or players.
Nowadays though, they are aided by all types of weather instruments that can tell them when and where suspected bad weather is coming from so it is rare to see a match called off mid-way through it.
It is the same if a referee looks at the condition of the pitch before a game and thinks that it is not up to the proper standard then he/she has the right to abandon the game.
This is extremely rare in professional leagues as they have dedicated teams of workers whose job it is to keep the pitch looking good but also make sure it is safe to play on.
A referee can also deem a match unsafe and call it off if fans from the crowd are exhibiting dangerous behavior or if any type of equipment is being damaged during a game.
4. Reporting things postgame
The main referee also has a job to do after the match has finished and that is to report to the league and tell them all the injuries that occurred during the match.
For amateur leagues this is hard to do so it is vital that the referee keeps in contact with the injured play and does this to the best of his/her ability.
For professional teams like LA Galaxy, this job is reserved for the many coaches and other staff members employed by the team.
On top of this, if any player on the pitch has broken a game law then the referee will write up a report and submit it to the league.
5. Assistant referee signals
The flag of the referee’s assistant has t be visible to the main referee at any point in time during a game. It has to be spread out and kept as still as possible while the assistant is running.
When it comes time to make a signal, the assistant has to stop running, turn and face the referee and raise the flag in such a way that the referee has no choice but to see it however not in an over-exaggerated way.