Monday, September 18, 2000

Abuse making soccer referees scarce

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — Participation in youth soccer leagues in central Ohio is at an all-time high. Finding referees willing to put up with spectators' verbal abuse is anoth er story.

        “That's where we lose a lot of referees,” said Victor Popescu, president of the Central Ohio Soccer Officials Association and a referee for more than 20 years.

        The largest league is the Mid- Ohio Select Soccer League, which has 260 fall teams that play about 1,700 games a season. Tom Conger, who with his wife, Judy McQueen, assign referees for three Franklin County soccer groups, said they usually can fill 85 percent of the spots for referees before the season; this season they filled only 71 percent.
       Paul Cieply, president of the Pickerington Youth Soccer Association, said referees have to have thick skins.
        He coaches soccer and has two sons who referee.

        “The parents are wrong 75 to 80 percent of the time when they make comments,” he said. “If the referee can realize that most of these parents don't know what they're talking about, then they'll be OK.”

        As a coach, he said he has learned to treat referees with kid gloves.

        “You should be nice to your referees so they want to work your games,” he said. “If you have a good reputation, the referees will go out of their way to ref your game.”


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