Successful referees dedicate themselves to protecting and enforcing the spirit as well as the letter of the Laws of The Game.
During a match the referee must constantly determine if the actions of the players are within or stepping beyond the boundaries of the spirit and letter of the Laws. This constant activity guides the official in establishing his or her control of the match.
Games will start and continue to be entertaining as well as relatively incident-free if officials consider the use of some basic ideas:
- From the first whistle, officials should be prepared to take care of any misconduct or breaches of the Laws.
- It is within the first few minutes of the match that a referee has the best opportunities to set the tone for the rest of the match.
- A player performs a throw-in from the wrong location, another kicks the ball away when the first foul is whistled, substitutes take a position on the field before the player being substituted has left the field.
- All these are examples of early opportunities for the referee to enforce the Laws and set his/her limits as to what will or will not be tolerated.
- Whether such early opportunities are dealt with or overlooked the referee has now set the stage for the rest of the match.