Referee Code of Conduct

This code is not intended as a moralistic prescription of desirable behaviour that would restrict the liberty of individual officials. Instead, it represents a list of positive recommendations based on a plan of conduct accepted by officials as a whole. It, therefore, consists of statements resembling rules of behaviour or maxims that those involved with the rules of the game will find immediately acceptable and with which tacit compliance is expected.

The philosophy of refereeing is based on the reason for having a body of rules that may in turn be summed up in the following words:

“the purpose of the rules is to administer the game and penalize a player(s) who gains an unfair advantage over his or her opponent as the result of an illegal action.”

This realistic concept can serve as a basis for a uniform but intelligent application of the rules of the game, derived from the following main principles.

First principle

Coaches, instructors and players shall accept official interpretations of the rules governing their sport as published by the Canadian rules of the Game Commission.

Second principle

Officials are responsible for applying the rules of the game in accordance with the official interpretations and shall comply with the refereeing code adopted by the national refereeing commission.

Third principle

Officials shall intervene in respect of actions that have in fact occurred and have been observed by them, and not on the basis of information received through a third party.

Fourth principle

The fairness of the official’s decisions is based on an overall view of the situation and his/her experience of similar occurrences.

Fifth principle

Except for situations in which an official’s specific authority is stated in the rules of play or in the refereeing code, all the officials shall make decisions on every punishable offence or fault observed by them in competitive play.

Sixth principle

Officials shall cooperate in developing discipline in the sport and in creating conditions for optimal player performance, without misinterpreting the rules of play and in an impartial manner.

Since refereeing is to be regarded as an opportunity for self-development and not as a means of working off individual frustrations, and since an individual acting as an official should constantly be striving to perform to the best of his/her abilities, officials will, therefore, see their role in light of the spirit of the rules and will not attempt to use it to satisfy a craving for authority.

The official will be aware of and accept that the only reason for his/her existence is to help the players have a good match.

With a view to entrenching this notion, the board of referees and its members have adopted the following principles:

A – In relation to the player

  1. The official shall ensure that the player has a reasonable opportunity to perform to the best of his/her ability, within the limits of the rules.
  2. The official’s main concern shall be the player’s safety. Any situation affecting this prime consideration of competition shall be avoided and/or terminated.
  3. During the game, the official is required to supervise; he/she must take all reasonable steps to maintain a spirit of healthy competition. Accordingly:
    a. He/she shall not permit intimidation of a player or by team staff, either by word or action.
    B. He/she shall not tolerate unacceptable conduct to officials, other players or spectators.
    C. He/she shall avoid pointless discussions with players in a match situation; only team captains are authorized to address him/her in the heat of play the official, in his/her relations with players and team staff, shall make every effort to retain a presence of mind enabling him/her to direct the same with complete objectivity and the dignity required by his/her position.
  4. When working in tournaments including novice players, the official shall accept the educational role expected of him/her and shall adapt his/her conduct to this particular aspect of the competition.
  5. Away from the immediate environment of play, the official shall be open to discussion and contact with players, avoid any conduct suggesting self-importance, arrogance or sarcasm, show himself/herself receptive to constructive criticism and demonstrate due respect and consideration for different points of view and judgments.
  6. Outside the court, the official shall conduct himself/herself in such a way that his/her relationship with players does not prejudice his/her subsequent work and the impartiality that must be obvious in it.

B – In relation to the coach

  1. The official’s conduct toward the coach and any other team staff shall be governed by respect and a match situation the official shall intervene as required in order to facilitate the work of coaches within the framework of regular procedures and the limitations of the rules.
  2. The official shall prohibit any unacceptable conduct by team staff in their relations with officials, players, other team staff and spectators, and shall take action against any offence of this nature in accordance with the procedures provided in the rules.
  3. Outside the match context, the official shall adopt an attitude conducive to positive dialogue and calm communication with team staff. He/she will make a special effort to listen to constructive criticism, having due regard to the uninhibited spirit of competition prevailing in these circumstances, and shall demonstrate the necessary sense of proportion if subjected to the personal abuse that may result from such a situation.

C – In relation to other officials

  1. Every official, in his/her relations with one or more other officials, shall consciously strive to create and/or cooperate in creating a friendly or at least pleasant working atmosphere governed by mutual respect, understanding, cordiality and, in particular, mutual encouragement.
  2. In performing their work, the members of a team of referees coming together to officiate in a match shall strive to create a working atmosphere conducive to confidence, cooperation and communication, with a view to optimal performance as a group.
  3. The first referee of a match shall take the action required to involve each member of the team of referees in the action and shall thank them at the end of the match.
  4. When a particular situation is a difficult one for a referee to resolve and he/she is uncertain about his/her proposed solution, the official in question shall consult with the other officials with a view to finding a clearer solution.
  5. The official shall accept the duties attached to the specific role he/she is required to play in the match and shall not attempt to transfer his/her responsibilities to other officials.
  6. Experienced officials shall concern themselves with the development of less experienced officials by tactfully and clearly advising them as to how they may improve.
  7. Every official shall refrain from public discussion of decisions of other officials and shall avoid criticizing or judging them impulsively at all times and in every situation, but particularly when wearing an official’s uniform.

D – In relation to his/her work and responsibilities and his/her general conduct:

  1. The official shall make the necessary efforts to reach a high standard of competence, encourage an atmosphere conducive to a conscientious performance of his/her duties and contribute to preventing inadequate refereeing standards. The official shall accordingly:
  1. Not perform any refereeing duties under false pretenses concerning his/her skills and qualifications, especially as regards the regularity of his/her registration with VC’s board of referees.
  2. Not accept any present, benefit or favour that might subvert or appear to influence his/her subsequent decisions or actions in the performance of his/her duties.

Every referee shall perform his/her duties at acceptable physical and functional levels. This includes the requirements that he/she:

Take the necessary action to maintain a physical condition sufficient to meet the organic and physical requirements of his/her duties.

Avoid performing duties if his/her faculties are significantly impaired by illness.

Rest sufficiently to be able to perform adequately.

Refrain from officiating while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

When performing his/her duties, the official shall adopt an assured, dignified demeanour, in the knowledge that his/her actions as a referee should convey the sense of decorum inherent in the rules of the procedures.

Requirements concerning the performance of the referee’s duties:

Every official shall, while officiating, wear the uniform specified by Volleyball Canada and shall present a clean, well-groomed appearance personally and in his/her dress.
Each official shall seek to gradually acquire relevant experience and improve his/her skills, without attempting to progress too fast, by studying the rules, confirming any doubtful interpretation with the competent authority and by participating in training courses available to him/her, in a spirit of continuous learning.

Participation in competitions:

The official must demonstrate complete reliability in relation to his/her commitments, fulfil them without exception and faithfully keep formal oral promises to officiate.
In accepting assignments to matches in a tournament, the official shall demonstrate goodwill with a view to a division of work that is fair to all parties. The official will therefore:
be available throughout the tournament period.
Devote his/her full attention to each match in which he/she is involved.
Avoid making any conditions tending to limit his/her participation.

The above considerations apply to all situations not involving circumstances beyond the control of the individual in question.

Involvement in a match:

An official’s first concern shall be to maintain the unshakeable and absolute integrity of the refereeing function, which should especially evident in his/her most difficult decisions. In accordance with this considerations, the official shall:

Not allow himself/herself to be advised or influenced by any player, team staff or spectator.
In his/her actions to be free of all partiality or prejudice toward either of the teams involved.
Not make any decisions with the intention of compensating for them in a decision concerning a subsequent unrelated situation.

The official shall demonstrate total commitment in the match situation and adopt an appropriate attitude in his/her considered and discrete actions. He/she shall, for example, avoid:

Excessive fussiness in his/her judgements and stopping the game for insufficient reason.
Dramatizing the seriousness of the events he/she is supervising.
Making himself/herself the center of attention in the game, since his/her only reason for being there is because of the players and to assist them.

Noting the smallest details of a situation with a view to punishment.

Allowing the game to continue without intervening when necessary, or pretending not to see.

Taking the game lightly and not treating it seriously enough.
Through actions devoid of self-importance or arrogance, the official shall make a conscious effort to supervise play in a calm manner and make decisions without hesitation; this applies especially to difficult decisions, which he/she should announce decisively, without being inhibited by the importance of the situation.

The official should not, in an attempt to increasing his/her standing or restore his/her reputation with a third person, seek to justify himself/herself or apologize in relation to difficult decisions made by him/her.

At the end of the match, after checking and signing the score sheet, the official shall quietly leave the court area without unnecessary delay.

A referee shall, while officiating, refrain from any public statement concerning matches in which he/she is involved, especially a prediction of the outcome of one of these matches.

E – In regard to discipline, game administrator and spectators:

All officials who are members of the board of referees of vc shall be expected to act as fitting representatives of volleyball and of vc.

An official shall honor his/her word in regard to agreements made with vc and its representatives and fulfil his/her commitments in the agreed capacity as a referee, clinician, official, in charge of a specific dossier or any other duty specified.

Officials shall cooperate in developing volleyball and shall participate through their practical and moral, to the extent that their skills, interest and availability allow, in building a solid and forward looking organization.

These goals include an obligation on officials to:
contribute to the development or dissemination of training and development programs.
Become involved with the work of the various administrative authorities or accept and encourage their work.
Help with or take an interest in the physical arrangements for sporting or administrative events.

Officials shall act in their manners and language display a reserved and dignified attitude to spectators of volleyball, but shall also show due courtesy and respect.
In all situations not specifically covered in this document, officials shall act in accordance with the spirit of the code of ethics and the philosophy and guiding principles of refereeing.

1.written by claude huot, adopted by vc-noc, september 1986