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Instructor trains soccer refs on how to deal with angry players

Local instructor trains soccer referees

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - Family and friends are remembering a Salt Lake City, Utah, soccer referee who died over the weekend.

He was in coma after a player got angry over a yellow card violation that he called, and the teen punched him in the head. The 17-year old suspect could face aggravated assault charges. A Utah prosecutor says he plans to decide what charges to file within a day or two.

The man's death is raising a lot of concerns in the sporting community. But one local referee instructor said violence is nothing new. He trains referees monthly on how to deal with it.

Mark Oliver said a lot of these violent situations happen when yellow or red cards are given to players when a foul is called. Oliver trains about 100 new soccer referees a year.

Oliver said a referee should never turn their back on an angry player.

"When we have a confrontation issue we back up as fast as we can, we get refs to surround it and I will just take notes on who we have to throw out," he said.
He also said the No.1 thing he teaches new referees is how to calm themselves down, mentally. They should say to themselves, "OK I've seen this before, I know how to handle 'this."

"The referees will train with a heart monitor on and they'll compare where the heart spikes are and what they're doing in the game, so when they go to training they work on calming themselves down at those peaks where there hearts high," Oliver said.

Oliver is worried about the recent news of the Utah soccer referee. He said people may think referees don't know what they're doing but in actuality, they have to take a 16-hour class that includes written and physical tests.

"I think we're going to see organizations take more scrutiny in who is playing on their fields. Does the organization carry a certain amount of insurance, does the organization train referees to train in this type of thing?" he said.

Oliver said soccer is a violent sport and he's seen his share of it.

"I've been slapped, I've been slugged and I've been hit in the ribs. Friends of mine have had a whole team enraged at them. One time I looked up at and the whole team was chasing him," he said.

Oliver said a third of the referees leave the profession because of the violence.

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