Being a soccer referee looks like a pretty glamorous profession. At the top end of the game refs are jetted all around Europe, and the world for that matter, taking care of high profile games featuring some of the best athletes in the world. Even better they are getting their expenses taken care of and are being paid professional salaries for their troubles. As you start to go down the soccer pyramid however the job gets less glamorous, less well paid and generally becomes a high stress pastime. Here are some reasons why this is so:
Everyone knows the rules better than you
This is the classic reason why refereeing just sucks. Little Jimmy is three. He has been “playing” soccer for a week. Little Jimmy has a father and a mother who had never seen soccer until a week ago and who think that Barcelona United are the best team in the World Soccer Tournament League. They however are now screaming at you for not blowing your whistle and giving a handball against one of the opponents of Little Jimmy. This is despite the fact Little Jimmy is currently chasing butterflies inside the goal.
Soccer fans are the most creative people in the world
The soccer chant is a thing of legend. While at most sporting events, American sporting events in particular, the most creative thing you hear is a “D-Fence, D-Fence” cry every now and again, soccer fans take things to the next level. This can of course be a good thing when the object of their attention is a player who is dazzling the crowd. The problem comes when said crowd gets infuriated with a referee to the point their ire is turned on the official. At this point the gloves are off and the man in the middle can expect to hear in no uncertain terms exactly what up to 100,000 people think of his decision making skills.
A Soccer Referee has to be right 100% of the time
No one can be right 100% of the time. It is not a humanly possible thing to be. A goalkeeper will give up a sloppy goal with poor handling. A striker will miss an open goal by shinning the ball wide. While both of these mistakes are forgiven, a referee is not given that same sort of leeway. The match official must act as some sort of robot, never missing a call, never seeming to favor one side and generally being the absolute perfect human for the duration of the match. This is, of course, completely unfeasible, but the soccer fan will not allow for human error. Not now, not ever.
Somewhere along the way it became dangerous
There was a point in time where the worst thing that would happen to a match official would be his fee not being paid or taking soccer ball to his misters. As the times have progressed however it has seemingly become OK to verbally and even physically abuse the ref during or after a game. Every now and again a story will break about an official in some low level league somewhere in the world being killed because of what happened in a game. Hopefully this is a trend that reverses and the beautiful game can get back to being just that.
The soccer referee gets forgotten at snack time
I have reffed my share of youth soccer games. One of the great things about youth sports in America is how after games the animal crackers and Capri Suns are flowing. Players and coaches are basking in the thrill of another game won by no one because score keeping is apparently against the Constitution. Its alright though because everyone is chowing down on snacks of dubious health benefits. Everyone that is except the lonely official who has been forgotten by both teams and who is having to instead eat the lousy, slightly over ripe banana his wife threw in his bag that morning. Not that I am bitter.
So there you are. A bunch of reasons why being a soccer referee is the worst job in the world. In all honesty though a good ref is vitally important at all levels of the game. I found that my experience playing was really helpful in youth leagues where I could help the often out of their depth parent/coach by being an extra coach on the field as well as calling the game. Referees are people too folks. Please treat them as such!