Zero Tolerance Policy

Mass Youth Soccer issued an updated Zero Tolerance Policy in 2023. In order to join our state’s effort in decreasing the abuse and assault of soccer officials (referee, assistant referee, linespeople, the 4th Official), BAYS has updated its Zero Tolerance Policy. This Zero Tolerance Policy is not intended to label Match Officials as always right and spectators and/or coaches as always wrong. As players make mistakes during play and coaches may err in strategy or methodology, Match Officials will make mistakes in officiating, particularly in the younger divisions where they are still learning the art of officiating. The current state of affairs regarding chronic shortages of qualified Match Officials will likely be with us for some time. One consequence of this shortage is the need from time to time for a Match Official to be assigned to officiate a higher level match than they otherwise might be comfortable officiating. In all cases, our Match Officials must receive only positive support from coaches and spectators to continue to grow as an official. We must all work together to deter and eliminate all levels of verbal abuse or negative criticism of Match Officials. We would not tolerate such behavior towards our children; we must not tolerate the same towards our Match Officials.

This Zero Tolerance Policy is in effect as of Spring 2024 and applies to all coaches, players, parents, spectators, and other supporters and officials participating in a BAYS program or event. 

  1. No one, except the players, is to speak to the referee before, during, or after the game. Exceptions: Coaches may ask questions before the game, call for substitutions and point out emergencies during the game, or respond to the referee if addressed.

  2. Absolutely no disputing calls, during or after the game, no direct or indirect remarks to the referee to watch certain players or attend to rough play. NO YELLING at the referee, EVER, and no criticism, sarcasm, harassment, intimidation, or feedback of any kind before, during, or after the game.

  3. Violators may be sent-off and are subject to disciplinary action by the BAYS Sportsmanship Review Committee.

  4. If Coaches would like to provide feedback about the refereeing, AFTER the game, log into the BAYS site and under My BAYS->Coach/Manager->Game Feedback click the correct game link to access a form that will send the feedback directly to the home Referee Assignor as well as to BAYS officials.

  5. If spectators have questions regarding particular calls, rules, or a referee, or wish to give feedback regarding a referee, they should contact their BAYS team coach. Coaches can file feedback reports with BAYS or speak with their club officials to get more guidance.

Zero Tolerance violations by coaches, team officials, or spectators must be reported in the official game report according to a sliding scale of 0 to 3 where 0 = no ZT up to 3 = most severe ZT violation. ZT Rating Guidelines here. LAW #5 Referees/Refereeing Systems/Ejections/Game Report is in effect. Specific comments and descriptions must be included in the ZT violation section of the center referee’s game report. Assistant referees are encouraged to add details in the general comments of their reports.

The referee has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play/parking area after the match ends.

Red Card violations issued are reported to the Ejection Director. ZT Violations are separate from Red Card Violations. Incidents of referee abuse or referee assault will be reported at the league level to MYSA and MSRC.

In addition to including the misconduct in the official game report, referees are encouraged to discuss ZT violations with their Referee Assignor. 

BAYS Member Clubs are responsible for making sure that the required sanctions are imposed and fulfilled or that a timely request for reconsideration is filed. A club official, who is not the violator, may request a reconsideration of a ZT violation suspension within 48 hours of receiving the ZT violation notice. The chairperson of the BAYS ZT Committee, and two members of the BAYS ZT Committee who are not affiliated with the violator’s club, will review the request. This reviewing committee may affirm or modify the sanction, but the rating of the ZT violation will stay as recorded by the match official. The club president will be notified of the reviewing committee’s decision at least 48 hours before the suspension is scheduled to be served. The reviewing committee’s decision is final within BAYS.

Required default sanctions for ZT violations: 

  • Level 1 ZT: BAYS Member Clubs track and monitor their own coaches' or spectators’ ZT 1 violations and impose sanctions as they see fit.

  • Level 2 ZT: a one game suspension. Violators may not coach and/or attend their cited team’s next* BAYS game once they are notified of their infraction and suspension by their club. It is the responsibility of the club to ensure the ZT violator fulfills their suspension. 

  • Level 3 ZT: a two game suspension. Violators may not coach and/or attend their cited team’s next* two BAYS games once they are notified of their infraction and suspension by their club. It is the responsibility of the club to ensure the ZT violator fulfills their suspension. 

*Next BAYS game(s) is inclusive of all BAYS competitions including regular season, Presidents’ Cup, BAYS Playoffs, and representing BAYS at MTOC.

In the event that a violator’s identity cannot be identified or confirmed by their club, the head coach of the team will serve the suspension if the violator is a member of the coaching staff; the spectators of the team will serve the suspension if the violator is a fellow spectator. The violator’s team may not have any spectators on the sidelines or near the playing field at their next BAYS game. Fans and supporters of the violator’s team must stay 100 feet away from the playing field or stay in the parking lot whichever is further during the game for their suspension. 

BAYS ZT Committee reviews and tracks all ZT violations and sanctions. ZT violations committed by the same violator within the current and prior three soccer seasons will be considered repeated offenses. Repeat offenses may be brought forward to the BAYS Sportsmanship Review Committee for review. Additional sanctions may be issued.