One liners (and other methods) you can use


First, this web site and the advice and answers to any questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game. Although the content of the latest Laws are included on this site, the majority of the content is my opinion and opinions of other referees through research in books, magazines or other web sites.



The trick is for Referees to accept that football is a very emotive game, and passions will always run high.  One-liners will depend on the character of the Referee. You will need to develop those methods that personally suit your personality. In other words, you will need to be able to ’carry-off’ these methods without looking as though they are choreographed.


Also, what works today, might not work tomorrow, either with the same or a different team.  I use my “It’s my first time on a soccer field” to respond to those who’ve thought I’d blown a call or calls.  Nine times out of ten, it elicits a smile or smirk, but it usually diffuses the situation by deflecting the issue to something else.  My favorite all time responses are,


“You don’t know that you don’t know!”




“When all the confusion dies down, I will still be here.”



Here are some others, but remember……use caution.



How much are they paying you ref?"


"Not as much as that comment has just cost you"


not enough to make me make a call in any one team’s favor.”


“If you knew how much I made, it could nearly be considered volunteer work.”


"Number 6...does he (indicating marked opponent) remind you of your girlfriend, by any chance?"

"No...not at all, Ref."

"Then you really have no excuse to be groping him like that, do you?"


I do a good magic trick. I show a red card and players like you disappear.


"When you guys stop missing the net I'll stop missing those calls".


“Ref, are you blind?”, or “You need glasses”

Ref:  They (Lens Crafters) called about an hour ago.  I didn't get a chance to pick them up, yet.


The last time I looked, you were neither my assignor nor my assessor.


I can’t ref from over there.


You seem to be able to do a great job from over there.  Can I come over there and join you?



Do you want me to keep arguing with you, or shall I watch the game instead?


“I’m a ref, too, and that was a bad call.”

“You're not a ref today”

or, depending on the severity of the situation,


To another ref: “Give me your name and ID number.  I need to report you as an official who has just broken 4 of our code of ethics.”  (Note: It should be your policy to NEVER comment about the officiating in any sporting event as it only contributes to the bad reputation we as a profession already have.  If you bad mouth those who work with you, you’ll be perpetuating their opinion of YOU.)


To a parent or coach “Give me your name and number.  I’d like to pass along the information on the next referee course because we can all use some good referees like you.

To a parent or coach “Give me your name and number.  I’ll report you to the appropriate officials.”

You have a choice…you can either (behavior modification you want, such as toning down their criticism) or you’ll have to get the game recap in the parking lot in an hour.

This is not a one liner, but when you are trying to get a wall to move back and they are stalling, get in the middle of the wall and blow the whistle long and hard right in their ears.  It’ll save you a caution and will surely get them to retreat then and in all future wall situations.


Got a lot of junior refs out here today!


Use your hand and mime the ‘zip your mouth’ movement. i.e. pretend that you are zipping your mouth closed.


A ref Stare


“Not that old line again.  Can’t you think of anything more original"?

(This is a good 'one-liner' to reply to the players' old favorite comment such as "You must be joking Ref)


“If I wanted to have an afternoon of nagging, I would have stayed at home.”


"I didn’t call you over here for you to give ME a lecture".


Player: "There's two teams out here today Ref."

Referee: "Really? I was wondering when your team were going to start."


A Referee who is receiving some verbal grief from a player:

Referee to player: "One of us might be going to the changing rooms early. Guess which one?"


A Referee who is receiving some verbal grief from a player:

Referee to player: "It’s a great pity that there are no windows in the changing rooms. I’d hate for you to miss the rest of the game"


A Referee who is receiving some verbal grief from a player:

Referee calls the player towards him, slowly puts his hand in his card pocket whilst staring at the approaching player. Pulls out his handkerchief and proceeds to blow his nose!!

DOUBLE WARNING ON THIS ONE – only use if you can definitely get away with it! And remember to put a handkerchief in your pocket! You might need it to wipe away the tears!


Referee’s answer to a player who keeps questioning the Referee’s decisions:

"If I made as many mistakes as you have done in this game, I would seriously think about taking up Refereeing."

Referee’s answer (with a wide smile) to a player who keeps questioning the Referee’s decisions:

"If you carry on like that, then you and I are going to fall out - and I hate to fall out with anyone."

Player: "You must be joking Ref.!"

Referee. (With a wide show of teeth)…. "Funny you should say that."

Player: "You must be joking Ref.!"

Referee. "Yeah, but I was hoping for a quality audience today."

Player "You're having a laugh Ref.!"

Referee: "I haven't had such a good laugh since I got married."

Player: "Your having a laugh Ref."

Referee: "I know. That’s cause this game's such a joke!"

Referee to troublesome player: "Do you know that there are only two players in this game who are giving me trouble...and YOU are BOTH of them."

Player worried about the opposing team wasting time: "Are you adding this on, Ref.? "

Referee’s reply: "Shall I add it on now or at the end of the game?"

Player’s shout of frustration: "F*** me Ref.... "

As Referee runs past the player, he quietly says: "Sorry, but you’re not my type mate!"

Player’s shout of frustration: "F***in’ Hell Ref.... "

Referee: "I hope so - for your sake!"

Player: "What’s that for Ref.?"

Referee’s reply with a shrug of the shoulders: "I don’t know".

(You’ll get one or two strange looks but it works!)

Player: "What’s that for Ref.?"

Referee’s reply with a wide ‘knowing’ smirk: "Law 12 ‘Fouls and Misconduct’ paragraph 3, Direct Free Kick Offenses!"

Player who thinks he is a super-star: "Do you know who I am?"

Referee’s reply: "No, but if you sign my notebook, I’ll be most grateful."

Player who thinks that the Referee should know his name without asking for it: "You already know my name Ref."

Referee’s reply: "I know - but my spelling is awful. Would you mind spelling it out for me?

Player: Jeez, Ref. Where did they get you from?"

Referee: I only said I was available... I never said that I was any good. "

Player with the motion of his hands, wants the Referee to card an opponent, and says, "Where's your cards Ref."

Referee’s reply "Which color would YOU like?"

Player" "Are you blind Ref.?"

Referee’s reply: "Yep – so you’ll have to write your own name in my notebook, if you keep going on!"

Player "Are you blind Ref.?"

Referee: "Who said that?"

Referee to player: "Do you know what a soccer ball looks like?"

Player, "Yes!"

Referee, "Good. In that case would you mind kicking the ball, and not your opponents!"

Player: "Ref. You’re spoiling this game!

Referee: "I've spoiled much better games than this."

REF! what kind of a call was that??

"That was my call! Are you feeling OK? You are looking rather yellowish at the moment?" A touch of jaundice perhaps? Yellow Fever? I sure hope no red spots start appearing!

Player - "Come on Ref you're not giving us anything!"

Ref - "I'm not Father Christmas, I don't have to give you anything."

From a player who just kicked the ball out and is trying to claim the throw/kick:

"That's rubbish ref!"

"Yeah I know. I would've played it downfield myself."