Purpose of this Policy

The purpose of this policy is to make clear that verbal abuse or negative criticism of referees is as unacceptable as verbal abuse or negative criticism of players.  This policy adopts basic standard sanctions for improper conduct.

This policy is not intended to imply that referees are always “right” and the spectator or coach is always “wrong”.  Just as players make mistakes during play, referees will make mistakes in officiating, particularly in the younger divisions where they are learning how to referee.   Due to a shortage of referees, a referee may be officiating at a higher level game than they are comfortable with.  They must receive positive support from coaches and spectators to continue to grow as an official.

It is never acceptable to abuse or criticize referees, verbally or otherwise, in any situation.  The Nelson County Youth Soccer Association (NCYSA) will not tolerate any verbal or other abuse, or criticism of referee by any coach or spectator.  There are appropriate avenues for coaches and spectators to share concerns about the quality of officiating.  The NCYSA Board of Directors welcomes constructive comments about the referees.  The NCYSA Board of Directors contact information can be found on the Board of Directors Page at nelsoncountysoccerclub.com.

Policy on Referee Abuse

Youth Referees:  Although abuse towards any referee will not be tolerated, any abuse towards a youth referee will result in more severe disciplinary actions by the NCYSA Review Committee.   A Coach or spectator may only communicate in a positive way with a youth referee.  The coach is responsible for ensuring all spectators associated with his/her team follow these guidelines relating to communication with a youth referee.  A coach/spectator may not express any disagreement or dissatisfaction with the officiating to the youth referee.  A coach/spectator may not, before, during, or after a game, discuss with a youth referee their critique of the referee’s performance, other than to thank and compliment the referee.

Any NCYSA Board Member or USSF-certified Adult Referee present at the game shall, if necessary, intervene if any coach, spectator, or other adult is criticizing or abusing a youth referee, verbally or otherwise and may take immediate appropriate action.  This may include directing the offender to leave the site, and/or suspending or terminating the game.

Any concerns about the quality of officiating of a youth referee must be addressed to the Referee Assignor or board member.

Anyone observing behavior not following these guidelines should immediately report the incident to the NCYSA Board Member on duty so that situation can be handled appropriately.  Please report to the concession stand and the Board Member on Duty will be contacted.

At the discretion of the center referee or NCYSA Board Member, a warning may be given, but is not required, for a first time violation of this policy.  The Center Referee or NCYSA Board Member who witnesses any abuse of a referee may remove the offending party from the premises. The Police should be called for anyone who refuses to leave the premises.

Disciplinary Sanctions For Referee Abuse

Any Board Member, upon receipt of any reported abuse of a referee shall report the incident to the NCYSA Review Committee, who shall implement appropriate discipline before the next game if possible.

The following sanctions will be applied unless modified upon review of the incident by the NCYSA Review Committee.


Type of Abuse

Recommended Sanction

Criticism, heckling, or verbal abuse of a referee (not including offensive, insulting, or foul-language) First Offense

1 game suspension

Serious verbal abuse of a referee (e.g. using offensive, insulting, or foul language), or repeated offense of less serious abuse.
  • Minimum 2 game suspension
  • NCYSA Review Committee hearing to consider additional sanctions and/or remedial actions.
Coming onto the field to confront an adult referee.
  • Minimum 2 game suspension
  • NCYSA Review Committee hearing to consider additional sanctions and/or remedial actions.


Coming onto the field to confront a youth referee.
  • Minimum 4 game suspension
  • NCYSA Review Committee hearing to consider additional sanctions and/or remedial actions.
  • A letter of apology to the youth referee.
  • Any specified form of appropriate apology to the players, coaches, and parents of the teams affected by the conduct.


Threatening any referee (by word or action)
  • NCYSA Review Committee Hearing
  • Reported to Bardstown/Nelson County Rec Board



Egregious offenses (e.g. repeated or multiple abusive situations, physical contact with a referee, or exceptionally inappropriate behavior directed toward a referee) shall result in immediate and continuing suspension of the offending person pending a thorough review.  The NCYSA Review Committee will determine if further or more serious discipline is warranted.  An egregious offense violates the fundamental mission of NCYSA and requires strong action.  Discipline may include, but is not limited to, suspension for the season, suspension for multiple seasons, or lifetime coaching bans.

These sanctions apply only to the discipline of spectators and coaches.  Sanctions necessary for any player will be dealt with using the Red Card Policy from the NCYSA Rules.

A plea of ignorance to this policy is not sufficient, and violators may expect appropriate action by the NCYSA Board of Directors.

These sanctions do not limit, prevent, or replace any voluntary or required report or referral of improper conduct, by an adult toward any child, to any law enforcement or child protection agency.