ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBS Local) — Youth soccer games are being cancelled at twice the normal rate this year due to a referee shortage blamed on bad behavior by parents and fans, according to officials in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Currently, there are 85 referees to be split among high school and club leagues. That’s an all-time low, according to Dave Lauben, who oversees scheduling for high school games.
“Ten years ago, that number was approximately 140,” he told KOAT.
Lauben, a ref himself for more than a decade, said 25 games have been canceled this year because he couldn’t find a referee.
“[That is] twice as many as I’ve had to cancel in the three years prior,” he said.
Referees in Albuquerque, New Mexico are calling foul on parents' behavior at soccer games. Many even call it referee abuse. https://t.co/5SPArMy64Z
— WKBT News 8 (@news8news) October 2, 2019
Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, recently sent a letter to all high school soccer coaches and officials. In it, she encouraged them to share an excerpt of a referee’s resignation letter with parents.
“Soccer parents, you are absolutely 100% the reason that we have a critical refereeing shortage and games are being cancelled left and right,” the resignation letter read in part. “And you are part of the reason I’m done here.”
The New Mexico Youth Soccer Association has started putting up signs at games reminding spectators to behave.
Marquez said a ban on all spectators or sanctions on parents are among additional options under consideration.
For now, she said officials will work on increasing the number of administrators at games. Administrators are the only ones who have the ultimate authority to remove a parent.