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FAQ - Referee

  • How are referees assigned to games?
  • How do I volunteer for assignments?
  • How do I find out what my assignments are?
  • How do I enter Game Card information?

Who are the referees?

They each are volunteers; they are us. Many referees start when their children are young and move up with them. Referee training is provided for all age groups and levels. In the younger age groups, referees are mostly parents who are new at it. Each team in the 8U through 10U age groups must have one and preferably two certified referees. 11U and 12U teams must have one certified referee. 

What training is provided for referees?
There are several kinds of courses and clinics: the 8U Official course for 8U referees, the Basic Regional Referee certification course for 10U are the usual starting certifications.  Higher levels are also offered.   

What is "Safe Haven"?
AYSO has made a commitment to provide a safe place for children to play and compete, and for volunteers. Referees have a responsibility to help make our environment safe, as well as fun.  Safe Haven certification is mandatory for all AYSO coaches and referees nation-wide. A referee who has been Safe Haven certified will be entitled to legal indemnity for work as a referee under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997. 

When are the referee clinics?
Clinics are offered mostly in August and September or March. The full clinic schedule is posted in the referee pages as soon as it becomes available. 

Do I have to buy my own uniform?
No. Once you complete your training, you will be provided with a uniform (including shirt, shorts, and socks), hat, badge, whistle, flags, and a copy of the most current edition of the Laws of the Game. We love your volunteering of time. We do the rest.

Can I referee my own child's games?
Absolutely. You can be the (center) Referee in your own child's games up through games in the 10U division. In 12U through 19U, you can be an Assistant Referees for your child's games. 

When are the games?
Games are played on Saturdays for all divisions below 16U. 16U and 19U games are played on Sundays.  Competitive teams in the Elite and Select, 10U-19U, play on Sundays.

What if I have a problem at a game with a coach?
It is rare for our Palo Alto AYSO coaches to create an incident. But it may happen, so be prepared with this knowledge. Coaches are trained not to pursue any issues they may have with the referee during the game. 

If a coach is not following guidelines for behavior, including excessive coaching during the game, questioning or commenting negatively on referee calls, or generally not contributing to a fun and safe environment, we follow the USSF recommended procedure for escalation.
  1. ask the coach to desist the deleterious behavior
  2. tell the coach to desist the deleterious behavior
  3. order the coach to leave the field
Enter the information as a comment during game card entry for steps 2 and 3. Leaving the field means they must not only leave the immediate field, but leave the park such that they are no longer visible to the players on the field. If you need to remove a coach and he refuses to cooperate, stop the game until the coach is in compliance. If the game must be terminated because the coach will not comply, that team forfeits the game.

What if I have a problem at a game with a spectator?
Our community consistently demonstrates good sportsmanship and spectator behavior at our AYSO events. Rarely is there a problem, and we can go years without any incident at all. And this is for all referees collectively, let alone for any individual referee. As a referee in Palo Alto you can expect to never have a problem with spectators. But it can happen, so we must be prepared. 

Enter as a comment on the game card all incidents when a spectator behaves in a way that makes a game something other than a safe, positive, enjoyable, growth experience for the children. If a spectator is consistently behaving in a manner that interferes with the conduct of the game in accordance with AYSO principles, follow the same 3 step procedure as with coaches, ask, tell, eject. 

If a parent or spectator refuses to leave the field, ask for their name, phone number and address so that you may provide the information to the Palo Alto Police. DO NOT attempt to forcibly remove the person nor ask anyone else to help. Whether they agree to supply the information or not, call the Palo Alto police at 650-329-2413. Inform them that you are refereeing a children's game, are responsible for the safety of the players, have a valid permit for the field from the City of Palo Alto, and a spectator is disrupting the game and refuses to leave. Provide the name and other information you have obtained, and ask the police for immediate assistance with regard to the safety of the children on the field. Remember, it is not only the physical safety of the children that must be safeguarded, but also the emotional impact the behavior of an unruly spectator might have on them.

Who will answer my other questions?
The best person to start with is the Referee Coordinator for your division, but any member of the regional referee staff will be happy to answer your questions. If you wish to discuss a policy issue you may inquire of the Regional Referee Administrator,