Brian Baer, third from the right, in a group of referees.

Brian Baer is a veteran referee and the president of the Hudson Valley Soccer Referee Association.
He said abuse by parents and coaches has always been an issue but post-COVID-19 it’s gotten worse.
This is his story, as told to writer Elle Hardy.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Brian Baer, the 55-year-old president of the Hudson Valley Soccer Referee Association in New York, about his job. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

When my two oldest kids were playing youth soccer in 2004, I decided I wanted to give back a bit to our local community, so I started coaching. Since then, I’ve become a referee mentor, licensed by US Soccer, and I’ve moved into officiating soccer matches for youth as well as amateur adult games, which I’ve been doing for about 15 years now.

In 2017, I also became the volunteer president of the Hudson Valley Soccer Referee Association, which assigns more than 400 member referees for the community league.

There’s currently a real referee shortage for youth and amateur games, and it’s come as a one-two punch

The smaller punch was COVID-19. Over the last two-and-a-half years, we’ve lost a number of senior referees who felt it was probably a good time to step away.

But honestly, the bigger punch is the high amount of verbal abuse, harassment, and sometimes even assault that referees have been experiencing, not just in our area but across the country.

I’ve had multiple incidents against me personally and dealt with even more that’s happened to other referees

Just the other day, an adult referee in our league was working a boys-under-14 game. He told me he wound up having to send the coach off after cautioning him twice. The match ended up having to be abandoned.

One of the team’s coaches was yelling and swearing because he disagreed with how the referee was calling the match. The kicker is, after the game while the referee was walking across the field, he had to walk through the spectators to get to his car and they were verbally abusing and harassing him.

The actions by the spectators are in clear violation of the eastern New York Youth Soccer Association’s zero-tolerance policy.

Penalties for this behavior vary

Coaches will receive a minimum of one-game suspension, up to a full 10-games or more for poor behavior from …read more

Source:: Business Insider


I’m a kids’ soccer referee who’s been threatened with violence by angry parents and coaches. It’s easy to see why there’s a national shortage of officials.

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