Why Do Soccer Players Argue With Refs? [Explained]

In any given soccer match, it’s not unusual to see soccer players argue with refs. But what about this sport leads to so much on-field conflict? This article explores why soccer players argue with referees and whether this act is worth it.

Why Do Soccer Players Argue With Refs? 

Why Do Soccer Players Argue With Refs? [Explained]
Rangers players argue with referee William Collum after the red card of John Lundstram (left) during the cinch Premiership match at Easter Road, Edinburgh. Picture date: Saturday August 20, 2022. (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
Soccer players argue with referees when they disagree with the official’s ruling. They feel that by discussing with the referee, they might convince them to amend the decision that has been made to one that is more favorable to the team of the players who are arguing.

Soccer players arguing with referees is common. A referee’s decision is often hardly changed, even if players argue with the referee. With the introduction of the video-assisted referee (VAR) in top leagues, players have little say over the referee’s decision.

There are a few reasons why soccer players argue with referees. They could be trying to get a favorable decision, upset about a decision that went against them or trying to waste time.

Here are reasons why soccer players argue with referees;

Unfair Bookings And Sending Offs

If a player feels he’s being penalized wrongly or the punishment is more than the offense committed, he might resort to arguing.

Sometimes, the player might feel angry, especially if the opponent did the same thing and didn’t get penalized.

Penalties That Were Given Or Should Be Given

Players also argue with referees if a penalty is awarded wrongly, especially during injury time. Players can argue with the referee if a penalty is not also awarded when it was clear that it should be given.

Goals That Were Wrongly Allowed Or Disallowed

Goals are the significant reasons soccer players argue with referees before introducing the Video Assisted Referee (VAR). There’s no way to be sure if a ball crossed the goal line or if someone’s hand touched the ball before entering the goalpost.

This often causes arguments between players and referees, especially if the referees don’t see what happened.

Does Arguing With The Referee Work?

Yes, sometimes it works.

If a player can get a referee to change their mind on a call, that can be a huge advantage for their team. And even if a player doesn’t get the call they want, they might still be able to disrupt the flow of the game and slow down their opponents.

Is There A Disadvantage To Arguing With Referees?

Of course, there are disadvantages to arguing with referees. Players can pick up yellow or red cards, hurting their team. And even if they don’t get into trouble with the officials, they might still annoy their teammates or coaches if they’re constantly arguing.


What Do Soccer Players Check Before Arguing With Referees?

Regarding arguing with referees, soccer players must weigh the pros and cons. Speaking up can be a way to stand up for yourself or your team. But on the other hand, it can also lead to a costly yellow or red card.

Is Arguing With A Referee An Offence?

According to FIFA laws, arguing with a referee is not an offense.

However, if a player persists in arguing after being warned by the referee, they may be shown a yellow card for disrespectful behavior. If the player continues to argue, they may be shown a red card and be sent off.

Can Soccer Players Be Penalised For Arguing With Referees?

Yes, soccer players can be penalized for arguing with referees. This is because arguing with a referee is considered dissent, a punishable offense in soccer.

Dissent is “showing a lack of respect for the referee’s decision” and can be punished with a yellow or red card. If a player receives two yellow cards for dissent, they will be shown a red card and sent off the field. This means they will not be able to play for the rest of the game, and their team will have to continue without them.

Arguing with a referee is not the only way to show dissent in soccer. Other forms of dissent include;

  • Showing frustration or disbelief at a referee’s decision.
  • Gesturing or shouting at the referee in a derogatory manner.
  • Spitting at the referee.
  • Striking the referee.

These actions can result in a yellow or red card being shown to the offending player.

Can A Coach Be Penalised For Arguing With A Referee?

Yes, coaches can be penalized for arguing with a referee. The punishment for a coach arguing with a referee can range from a warning to being ejected from the game.

In some cases, a coach may even be suspended from coaching for some time.

Why Do Coaches Argue With The Referee?

Sometimes it’s because they’re passionate about their team and want to stand up for them. Other times, it may be because they believe that the referee has made a bad call, and they’re trying to get them to change their decision.

How Much Do Soccer Referees Make?

It depends on the league they are officiating. In elite leagues like the premier league, experienced soccer referees make up to $268,000 annually.

They also make an additional $2,000 for every match they officiate.

New or rookie referees in the premier league can make up to £70,000 to £200,000 annually. They also make £1,200 for every match they officiate.

Linesman and video referees make around £30,000 annually with a bonus of 850 for every match officiated.

Referees qualified to officiate in a European competition like the champions league or Europa league get paid $5,000 for every match, and for tournaments like the euros, referees get paid $60,000.


Can An Assistant Referee Enter The Field?

Yes, they can enter the field to help the referee. Of course, the referee has to signal to them before they can attempt to enter the field.

Why Do Soccer Referees Have Two Whistles?

Soccer referees carry two whistles as a backup if something happens to the first one.

Can A Soccer Referee Change Decision?

A referee can change his decision if the game is still on pause, but if the game has been restarted and he realizes that he was wrong in his decision, he cannot change it anymore.

For example, if he makes a decision before halftime and realizes it was a mistake once they resume for the second half, he can no longer change the decision.

What Are The Soccer Referee Levels?

There are 9 levels recognized in professional soccer referees.

Grade 1 Referees

Grade 1 referees are the ones who are in charge of officiating world cup matches and international competitions like the champions league, Europa league, the euros, and more.

Grade 2 Referees

Grade two referees are assigned to assist grade 1 referees when officiating a match. Linesmen, video-assisted referees e.t.c

Grade 3 And 4 Referees

Grade 3 and grade 4 referees are assigned to officiating league matches. Leagues like the premier league or MLS. they are the ones in charge of officiating them.

Grade 5 Or 6 Refeeres

They are the referees in charge of officiating division 2 or championship matches.

Grade 7 Referees

Grade 7 referees have experience but are only licensed to officiate amateur matches.

Grade 8 Referees

These are referees who are in the process of getting their licenses. They are going through the training process.

Grade 9 Referees

These are usually young people around 8 or 9 interested in learning how to referee. They are usually known to officiate young soccer matches (eight- or nine-year-old matches).

How Many Soccer Referees In A Game?

In professional soccer, there are one referee and three assistant referees. The head referee is in charge of enforcing the rules and laws of the game. He is the only one allowed to be on the pitch with the players.

Two linesmen (Assistant referees) are on each half of the field. Their job is to check for offsides and throw-ins and observe for offenses the head referee cannot see.

The other referee is the one that stays with the coaches. His job is to check incoming players for sharp objects and tell the main referee when a team would like to make a substitution.

There are also Video assistant referees working with the referees. They don’t stay on the field. They have a room they operate from. They are usually about three video assistant referees. They review cases.

  • Goal or No Goal
  • Penalty or No Penalty
  • Direct Red card offense
  • Offside or No Offside

Can Soccer Referees Be Penalized?

No, soccer referees do not get penalized for making bad calls. However, their work is reviewed and evaluated by a senior non-field official. The officials mostly look for errors like a referee being out of position or not paying attention to a certain situation.

Even though referees are not penalized, the evaluation and review of their work are major determinants of whether they can officiate a final game or a European competition.

What Is The Minimum Age For A Professional Referee?

The minimum age requirement for a professional referee is 23 years old. People younger than the age of 23 can officiate amateur leagues and matches.

Can A Soccer Player Refuse To Obey A Referee’s Decision?

No, a player cannot choose to refuse a referee’s decision. A player who attempts to do so may get banned from playing professional soccer.

Can VAR Change The Referee’s Decision?

Yes, a video assistant referee (VAR) can change a referee’s decision on a particular offense. VAR’s main job is to evaluate decisions that might not be visible to the referee.

Can A Referee Reverse A Red Card Punishment?

A referee can overturn a red card if the game has not been restarted.

Can A Referee Cancel A Match?

Yes, a referee has the power to cancel a match if there is bad weather or a dangerous scenario that could harm the players or fans.

Also, the referee can end the match if more than four players get a red card.

Can A Referee Score A Goal?

No, a referee cannot score a goal. However, if the ball hits him and it rolls into the goalpost, the game will be paused and restarted with a dropped ball to the team that last touched the ball.

Can A Referee Overturn Decision After the Game Has Restarted?

No, a referee cannot overturn once the game has restarted. He can only overturn decisions when the game is still on pause.

Can An Assistant Referee Change A Referee’s Decision?

Yes, a linesman can change a referee’s decision. For example, a goal decided by a referee could be overturned if the assistant referee has his flag up.

Can A Referee Be Changed During A Game?

Yes, a referee can be changed if he gets injured during a match.




Soccer players argue with referees when they disagree with the official’s ruling, and this is a common tradition in soccer. It could be for a wrong booking or something else. However, it is important to know that a player could get sent out of the pitch for being abusive or physical with the referee.

Also, coaches can get penalized if they appear rude or disrespectful to the referee.







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