Risk Management and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is still a reality, and we must stay informed and be prepared when coming in contact with players, coaches, spectators and other referees.


COVID-19 Protocol for Instructors and Referees


General Covid-19 Safety Guidelines for all Referees

The Eastern Pennsylvania State Association Referee Committee (EPSARC) suggests the following guidelines for refereeing outdoor soccer games this year. Always follow the Commonwealth of PA and local health department directives. This is not legal or medical advice. For your own protection and the protection of your family on your return home, understand the healthcare advice and apply it to your personal health and family circumstances.

  1. Referees do not have any additional responsibilities or authority under the COVID-19 related return to play guidelines from USYS, EPYSA, EPSA, or US Soccer. Referees should ask their assigner if a league has a different contract (or any specific Rules of Competition changes the referee should review). At the field, refer questions to coaches or the league.
  2. Stay healthy. Please accept games within your stamina and skill levels. For many reasons, related and unrelated to COVID-19, there are fewer referees this season.
  3. Assigners may have a tougher year. Nonetheless, please turn back the game if you are sick. You will not be penalized.
  4. Take and use hand sanitizer. Take a mask. Wear the mask at all times before, during halftime and after the game, between parking lot and field.
  5. All coaches, spectators, referees, players should wear masks at all times. The only time when players or referees do not have to wear masks during participation is if they meet an exception in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Order Requiring Universal Face Coverings. Section 3 of the Order provides an exception that allows an individual to remove their mask if wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability. Proof of meeting the exception is not required. For fully vaccinated individuals, masks should be worn in public places which includes soccer activities.
  6. Set your bags, chairs, and drinks at least six feet apart from your crew members, the spectators, and the teams. Do not set up between the teams or near the water.
  7. Do not shake hands or bump fists with players, coaches, spectators, or other referees. This year, smile, nod, wish them a good game, applaud, or wave.
  8. If necessary, remind spectators to stay at least 10 feet behind the touchlines. (This is ultimately the coach’s responsibility.)
  9. If needed, locate and mark the technical areas. The benches should be at least 10 feet behind the touchline. Call the coach’s attention to the marks and explain the special COVID-19 need for the coaches and players to remain more than six feet from the AR.
  10. Remind coaches and players at the beginning of the match to follow the rules of the competition about social distancing in team areas and at goal celebrations.
  11. Check teams in and conduct the coin toss per local league/competition rules. REMEMBER SIX FEET.
  12. Keep explanations simple and short. Evaluate possible injuries, show cards, and explain from MORE THAN SIX FEET.
  13. Seldom do referee evaluations of injuries or other discussions with players, fans, or coaches take more than a few moments. Keep them as short as possible.
  14. Apply the Laws, Rules of the Competition, and common sense with more social distance than in the past.
  16. While the referee continues to be the sole decider on what constitutes dangerous equipment, we must be mindful of the situation everyone is in. If a family decides that they would like their child to compete while wearing a mask, we must not overrule that decision.
  17. Players ARE ALLOWED to wear cloth or disposable face masks while playing. Neck gaiters, plastic face shields and other personal protective equipment could be considered dangerous and should not be worn.
  18. After being substituted and leaving the field, it is reasonable for a player to wait a few minutes to get a drink and catch their breath before putting on their mask.
  19. Coaches are responsible for all players, bench personal and spectators. Referees should work with head coaches to ensure their team complies with COVID Protocols, especially masks. When necessary, “Ask, Tell, Dismiss” should be used as a method to get everyone to comply.
  20. Coaches may pull down their mask to shout instructions to their players on the field as long as they pull their mask up immediately afterwards.
  21. It is the responsibility of the home team coach, not the referees, to enforce compliance with COVID Protocols of the field or venue.
  22. If you must dismiss a coach because of COVID non-compliance it is considered “Irresponsible Behavior” and MUST be documented as such in your game report.
  23. As an absolute last resort, referees may abandon a match.
  24. Any irregularities or inconsistencies should be noted in detail in your match report so that the leagues can properly address them.

If you need to turn back a game due to illness (whether or not it is definitely Covid related), you will not be penalized.  Safety is our top priority.
Please follow these guidelines:

  1. Contact your assignor as soon as possible to let him/her know you cannot accept the game.
    • Even if it is game day – communication is imperative – in order to find a replacement.
  2. Seek medical attention if necessary
  3. Follow proper protocol before accepting future games or returning to the field.

If you have been to a field and worked a game (center or assistant referee) and subsequently find out you are Covid positive or were in contact with someone who is Covid positive:

  1. Contact Ian Bongaardt, SRA, ian.bongaardt@gmail.com.  He will follow up with you on what to do next.
  2. Your privacy, health and safety, as well as that of our members, is our #1 priority.