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Referees - How to deal with off-field behaviour

Reports have had to be dismissed due to the wrong action being taken at the time, or missing info on the reports

We have seen a rise in the number of reports from referees, regarding the conduct of managers, coaches and spectators.

A number of these reports have had to be dismissed as the referee either didn’t take the appropriate action at the time, or the report does not contain the necessary information.

What has become apparent is that people are less confident in dealing with these situations than they are with issuing yellow and red cards to players. As a result, we would like to give you some additional advice on how to deal with these incidents should they occur. Please take a few minutes to read the information below as this will prove to be extremely useful for referees of all ages, but particularly those who are operating in youth football.

Below are some tips on how to deal with situations if they arise, and how to report them if they do.

 1.       Please include the exact language used. Some people are uncomfortable with writing bad language in their reports but please DO include the exact words used. Do not abbreviate or adapt the language.

2.       Please state what action you took on the day. If you feel that a manager or coach has said or done something out of turn, you have a number of options available to you at the time.

         stop the game, approach the individual in a calm manner, and warn them that their behaviour is not acceptable. This might be enough for them to stop.

-          Approach the individual and inform them that you will be reporting them after the game.

-          Explain that they are going to be reported and ask them to leave the vicinity of the playing area. Please bear in mind, if they are the only adult that is able to provide the appropriate duty of care (Youth football) / First Aid Provision (All football), then they need to remain.

-          The final action available to a referee is to abandon the game. Again, it is important that the previous cirumstances are all still reported.

-          If you do not feel confident enough to approach the individual, complete the game. At the end of the game, inform another member of the club that the individual will be reported. This should only be used in rare cases – it is much better if you can deal with the incident at this time. It gives the person a chance to rectify their behaviour, but you should still report it to the FA.


If you see or hear an incident and choose not to take any action at the time, you may still report it to us for disciplinary action to be taken. 

3.       Identify people’s names. If you are going to report an individual, do your best to get their name. This could be gained from other club members after the game if necessary.

4.       Please ensure that reports are submitted within 48 hours of the match. Reports may be invalid if they are not received in time. If there are issues with the Whole Game System and you cannot submit your report, please call the governance team on 01454 615888 (opt. 4).

5.       Contact us for help writing if needed! If you would like us to look over your report before submitting, please send it to and we can offer advice where needed.