When Does an Official’s Jurisdiction Begin and End?

Officials cannot enforce competition rules until a match officially starts.  However, legal and administrative needs extend beyond what the rulebook mentions regarding when an official’s jurisdiction begins and ends.

For example, the responsibility of checking the field, the game ball and each player’s equipment takes place before a match and before an official’s jurisdiction officially begins.  Failure to do those acts can lead to legal liabilities.

Similarly, the end of an official’s jurisdiction may not coincide with the sound of the final whistle. Because of this gap, there is a possibility that an official may have the jurisdiction to make calls and impose sanctions after a match has ended and those could ultimately change the result of the match.

Officials who are unaware of the extent and limitations of their jurisdiction when they accept an assignment are potentially creating legal and administrative issues for themselves.

Officials who are threatened, followed to the officials’ quarters, or the parking lot, can address players and coaches misconduct and dispense appropriate sanctions and penalties.  Having jurisdiction after the final whistle provides the officials with valuable benefits and may also deter negative acts from those who are not able to control their emotions.

Officials must be fully aware when their jurisdiction begins and ends.  They must also know the extent and limits of the jurisdiction they are provided prior to and following a contest.

Legal and administrative complications may surface when officials are unaware of what they can or are allowed to do during the extended jurisdiction or they overstep the boundaries of the jurisdiction guidelines.