No Pass – No Play – No Exceptions
For all USSF sanctioned competitions that we work, we must make sure that the participants have a valid pass for the competition. In addition to being used to validate that the rosters and players match and are in order, the pass may be required as the “entry ticket” to enter the pitch in competitions with limited substitutions. In competitions with unlimited substitutions, the player still must have a valid pass at check-in (and for late arrivals, before they enter the pitch).
The passes for any one match must be the same for both teams and for all participants on each team. Some teams have passes from more than one registration authority (such as NJYS and US Club). In some cases the same two teams will play each other under one set of passes, and then play again another time under the other. We cannot allow mixed passes, even for coaches. Both teams and all participants play under one set or the other – never mixed.
Recently, I had an EDP competition where a team from out-of-state came to play under US Club authority. They did not have a pass for one player (the player did not even have a pass number on the pre-printed roster). The coach said he couldn’t find the pass. When I advised that the player could not participate, the coach then handed me a photocopy of a USYS pass issued by his state association. I advised that the state-issued USYS pass was not valid for the competition and that a photocopy of the pass would not be accepted even if we did play under USYS (even more remarkable, the photocopy of the pass was from the year before – September 2012!). The coach said that other referees have allowed the player to play with the photocopy. (I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard “but the referee last week let me” – don’t be that referee!)
Needless to say, I did not allow the player to participate. After the match, the manager of the player’s team (which had lost 5 – 0) came over and said it was my fault that they lost because they had to play short (they had eleven on the pitch – I assume he meant short a key starter or an additional sub). I wrote the details into my game report and submitted to the appropriate authorities which verified that I had followed correct procedure.
No Pass – No Play – No Exceptions! It is for our protection that this rule exists. If we ever let a player play that should not be on the field, and there is an injury, the lawyers will be lining up and we will be on our own. As much as soccer is “for the kids”, the adults that manage it to provide a safe environment are required to follow rules and procedures that everyone knows in advance. If a team loses because a player cannot play, it is not the fault of the referee but of the team official that did not take care of his or her responsibility. The coach that says “Please, for the kid” is really saying, “Please, so I don’t have to tell the parents I messed up.” No Pass – No Play – No Exceptions!