By Ethan Ticehurst ’18
The hardest sport to officiate is soccer and there are several reasons why this is true. Soccer is a fast-paced game where many fouls are left up to the referees’ judgement which inevitably leads to some disagreement.
In soccer, the game moves quickly.There are no stoppages of play like in football where players can take a quick breather between plays. It is a constant state of free-for-all where the ball is up for grabs and whoever gets there first controls the entire game. There is no allotted time to change between offense and defense; it has to be done on the fly with no warning. There is an attempt by the players to bring order to the game, by running plays and executing passes at the right time, but nothing can change the chaos that exists within soccer.
Imagine being an official in the middle of all of this. There are certain rules that cannot be broken, such as when the ball goes out of bounds. Everything else that happens on that field is at the discretion of the officials, who have to decide in a short amount of time whether or not a breach of the rules occurred, such as tripping the opponents or when slide-tackling, making contact with the player before making contact with the ball.
Soccer is a physical game, with players diving all around the field in pursuit of the ball. Contact with one’s fellow players happens frequently. The officials cannot see everything that happens on a soccer field, for it is too big for that to be possible. There will obviously be plays that should have been called fouls that go unseen. There will be handballs that will not be noticed. The life of a soccer official can be a tough one, with the expectations of the fans and players coming into conflict with what is humanly possible to see.