Under the title “Where’s the love for Soccer,” CIF suggests in a recent press release that soccer could be headed for probation unless they see better behavior and respect for the game

Don’t get me started with this, if CIF is concerned with behavior, they should start with head basketball coaches, by far the most animated, brutal on officials and capable of inciting a crowd more than any other sport. Baseball is probably second, yet they go on how brutal soccer coaches are on refs. Talk about a double standard? Soccer, more than any other sport, has strict rules when it comes to cautions and ejections, which obviously leads to more ejections than any other sport. If a player fouls out in basketball with five fouls, that’s the equivalent of a soccer player getting a yellow, then a red for persistent fouling. Also, when a basketball player gets called for a flagrant foul, or a football player a 15-yard penalty for an unsportsmanlike conduct, that’s nearly the equivalent of a soccer player getting tossed for a hard foul. Show me the stats of how many basketball players foul out, or football players receiving unsportsmanlike penalties, then we can discuss this. And before they single out players and coaches so quick, maybe they should consider the quality of officiating too. In my opinion, this release shows a lot of unfair bias toward soccer, not intentionally — more a misunderstanding and overreaction to something that isn’t as serious as they think. Maybe CIF should impose rigid soccer-type penalties on coaches and players in other sports for berating officials, you would see the ejections increase rapidly. If anything, soccer has the strictest rules of all sports when it comes to penalizing behavior, that should be applauded, not threatened with probation.

CIF Press Release:
High School soccer is flourishing in the Southern Section: fully 80% of our schools field boys and girls teams. We’re delighted so many students participate in a sport that is rigorous and demanding. We now offer a Southern California Regional Championship. One would think that the sport is enjoying strong, positive support from our school administrators. That is not necessarily true. (To continue click thread).

We’ve reported here before that soccer garners more ejections, red cards and incidents of inappropriate behavior than any other sport. In fact, we’ve seen more ejections and red cards than all our sports combined! It is true again this year. The Section has received 787 ejection reports on student athletes and 82 ejection reports on coaches.

What is startling is that eight students have received ejections, and the attendant ban on interscholastic competition for the remainder of their high school eligibility, for assault on an official! This is simply not acceptable. Our officials are a valuable resource: they work under difficult circumstances. Most officials work because they love the game and the student athletes who play. They should not fear for their safety during the conduct of a game, no matter how important the outcome to the participants. Here is a graphic representation of our ejections:

Total Red Cards
Boys Soccer
523 red cards, 382 straight red, 348 violent conduct

Girls Soccer
182 red cards, 165 straight red, 70, violent conduct

Boys Coaches 59 total red cards
Girls Coaches 23 total red cards

We’ve long known that in the sport, spectators are frequently on the field of play, just inches from the action. Officials are often subject to abuse and as a result, choose not to respond to coaches and their questions, making them appear uncommunicative. Coaches often become heated and themselves berate the officials, which only serves to incite spectators. Many times games are conducted on campus without administrative supervision. These factors contribute to a difficult situation for our sport managers and our officials.

Two years ago, the Section implemented a system to track inappropriate conduct by teams. If a school team generates four red cards in the course of a season (excluding soft reds), that team will be placed on probation that ultimately can affect entry into playoffs.

Despite these special rules for soccer, we continue to see misbehavior that is not in concert with the ideals of high school interscholastic competition. We must see better behavior and respect for the game, and our officials. The sport was once placed on probationary status in the Section; we fear we may be headed in the same direction in the future.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email
  • Dball Ump

    Fred you really are comparing apples to oranges here. They don’t show you the stats of any other sports because, frankly, they don’t need to in this case.

    “In fact, we’ve seen more ejections and red cards than all our sports combined!” This, I think, says it all, and in itself shows that the soccer ejections are insane. The blame falls on everyone involved.

    When it comes to other sports they are just that, other sports. we are not focusing on baseball, nor basketball, nor football, but soccer. and this article says that the fouls in the sport are far too many.

    Before I give my perspective on the whole issue a little bit about me, so you’ll know my bias (or lack thereof). I played baseball recently back in high school, I umpire(d) high school baseball at times, mostly summer league stuff, but also a few tournaments. And now I’m taking the opportunity to coach high school at a lower level. That being said these are my arguments for the probation and suggestions.

    1) add another ref for all games, so each league game has 3 refs(i know some leagues do but not all). baseball has 2 umpires that make the majority of the calls within a 90 foot square. soccer sometimes has 2 refs for that massive field.

    2) clear the sidelines and add a bleacher section for fans. At a recent playoff game I was at. fans sat right alongside the field, within easy earshot of a ref. Its hard enough with a coach yelling at you, what about 100-200 fans to go along with it?

    3) I could be way off base with this one, but how about more training for the refs? and to offset that, better pay? You will attract the talent with better refs, and the training would be a definite bonus.

  • FredJ

    The reason I don’t like CIF pointing out the ejections as a basis of their argument is because of how easy it is to get thrown out in soccer for fouling or berating officials as compared to other sports where it is much harder to get tossed for similar behavior.
    Your an ump right? How many times has a coach stormed onto the field, got in your face and got the fans going in the process? Most of the time they walk back with a warning. In soccer you step on the field toward an official or move inches within their face and you get tossed. Again, it’s all perspective, soccer is far less tolerant — which should be a good thing.

    Again, compare a basketball coach working an official compared to soccer? It’s not even close. Fans complaining on officials is just as harsh if not more in basketball than it is soccer, but I don’t read about CIF coming down on basketball to improve behavior. I guess they need more ejection stats before they do anything. Soccer, on the other hand, takes a much more proactive approach and is quick to eject parents, coaches or players for behavior. Like I said, that should be applauded, not punished. In all my years covering prep sports, fans, parents and players are basically the same. There are unruly kids, parents and coaches in every sport, yet you’re going to single out soccer?
    Or look at it this way, I guarantee that if you had the data professional soccer would have a much higher ejection-per-game ratio than football, basketball and baseball — maybe combined. Good thing CIF isn’t governing sports in America, that would probably mean they would put Major league Soccer on probation.

  • LA Soccer Dad


    CIFs problems start with the officiating. My kids have been involved in AYSO soccer for many years and one of their greatest attributes, in their minds, is their Kid Zone mentality. That means no parent can yell at a Ref, coach or even their own kid. I dont know that this is a problem for 8 to 12 year olds but you CANNOT maintain that mentality to 17 & 18 years olds. It should be that you play hard, play respectful and after your done, you shake hands and walk off.

    I see too many AYSO refs involved in CIF. They have such thin skin I am amazed how many times I have seen an argument between a Ref and a parent on the sideline. Last week I was watching #2 El Rancho playing and Hawthorne and I looked down a few feet away from me are 3 to 4 SGV AYSO league board members and one particular ref who is well known to be very quick to pull out a Red Card for any comment on his performance. We always state Oh look so and so is refing, make sure no one says anything because he once picked up the ball mid-game and walked off to his car. NOT because any kid was in danger or parents were coming onto the field. No, it was because one parent did not like one of his calls and made a comment.

    Unless, there is a danger or a parent becomes so obscene that the kids are put into an uncomfortable situation, the ref should control the game and not worry about the side line antics [and I understand that they are there]. Last week I mentioned that Los Altos was playing Oak Hills and after being up 3-0 with 25 minutes to go; the game went out of control largely due to the fact that the center ref did NOT like some comments that were directed to him after he called off an offside call by his sideline ref.

    What we have discussed in the days and now weeks after the game was the fact that at the whistle ending the game, the 3 refs jumped onto a waiting golf cart and did not shake the boys or coaches hands as though they were in danger. I can tell you that as upset as our parents were by the bad series of calls, NO ref was in any danger of being attacked. Our boys went out, shook the other teams hand and walked away. Protect Numero Uno I guess was their mentality.

    In the last couple of years, my kids have transitioned into Club soccer and I can tell you the level of play is harder and more aggressive than AYSO but there is no more loss of respect and dignity in the game WITHOUT the KID ZONE mentality.

    If CIF wants to fix soccer at the high school level, they need to stop using AYSO refs or re-train the refs to make sure that they understand that they are NOT working under AYSO rules. That their focus should be on the field and NOT the side line unless it is detrimental to the dignity of the game or the safety of the kids. Just because you know the rules doesnt make you a good ref; otherwise, we could throw a bunch of young players out there that have been taught the rules. You need people that understand to stop the game and more importantly, when NOT to stop the game.

    I would also love to see a field Marshall for CIF Playoff games for a true evaluation of the refs.

  • not a soccer fan

    Hey- didnt you know? Its always the refs fault!!! Profane coaches, Irate parents because little Jose cant strut his stuff. Maybe a few too many cervezas in the parking lot among the parents before running out on the field yelling.

    Need to leash those parents- and muzzle them too.

    Glad my kid got out of that sport early.

  • LA Soccer Dad

    Not a soccer fan,

    You think that no one is complaining about that called strike in baseball games or that pass interference call under the Friday night lights. Have you seen the frenzeed fans after a charge call at a basketball game.

    I do not disagree that there are some that are way too animated after a call but I dont see it any different at any other high school sports game.

  • JG

    I agree that ejections are not the best way to judge the sport. Ejections come in all ways on the field. The problem parents need to be addressed by the coach of the team. The sidelines should only be for players and team staff/administrators( coach addresses this issue), Player misconduct on the field towards the opponent team, coach, refs or fans, should be addressed by the coach. The poor reefing should and has to be addressed by the CIF. Three refs in each game is a great idea. The refereeing in high school soccer should not be left to AYSO refs, the mentality, experience and hard work ethic is totally different from AYSO to High School soccer.
    As a Varsity Boys Soccer coach I want to say that the character and behavior of my team is in my hands, I have the choice to discipline, direct and counsel any situation that is arising in my program, if I do not address it in the proper way, Im at fault. I recently played in a tournament where a ref, opponents players and coach were taunting and talking bad to my players, I could not believe that the coach would think it was ok (we won by the way). Im old school, when I was a player my coach did not play me for three games for screwing around in a game while we were winning 7-0( I was a starter), he told me (in 1987) If you dont show respect for the game and give it 100% seriousness on the field, how can I expect you to take life serious. As a coach we are given the opportunity to guide kids for the future not for only 4 years. Coach is the leader and all that happens on the field off the field during his command is his responsibility to change, we are supposed to be good character builders. I have had 2 ejected players in 2 seasons, and none this past season. Last season our record was 14-6-3 this season we ended 9-9-3. I think we are ok

  • Don

    What percentage of theses soccer coaches are teacher/administrators and what percentage volunteers or paid walk-ons? I know this is going to be unpopular but one of the problems I’ve seen are too many coaches unwilling or unable to control their players or parents. When was the last time you saw a HS soccer coach pay any attention to the sideline shenanigans without prompting from the officials? I attribute this mostly to youth as many (most) of these coaches are hard to distinguish from their players.

    It’s easy to point at the officials as being rabbit eared and under trained, but anyone who has viewed a prep football, baseball, or basketball game in the last couple years knows the problem isn’t only on the soccer pitch. Back in the day, many officials at HS games were teachers or staff at local High School and Middle Schools; many were former coaches, keeping their hand in. Almost all aspired to officiate at a higher level and guys like Jim Tunney ended up working Super Bowls. This seems to be the exception these days, many officials seem to have been hired out of desperation more than anything. There are still some good ones working HS games, but there are some real rotten ones too.