Sports Official Abuse and Assault Primer

Difference between Abuse and Assault

(Definition Source)

  • Referee assault is an intentional act of physical violence at or upon a referee.  Assault includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: hitting, kicking, punching, choking, spitting on, grabbing or bodily running into a referee; head butting; the act of kicking or throwing any object at a referee that could inflict injury; damaging the referee’s uniform or personal property, i.e. car, equipment, etc.
  • Referee abuse is a verbal statement or physical act not resulting in bodily contact which implies or threatens physical harm to a referee or the referee’s property or equipment.   Abuse includes, but is not limited to the following acts committed upon a referee: using foul or abusive language toward a referee that implies or threatens physical harm; spewing any beverage on a referee’s personal property; or spitting at (but not on) the referee.

If you are facing imminent danger of referee assault, call 911.  If referee abuse or assault have already happened at a match in which you were official or spectator, any individual can report it to the governing authorities of the state sport association.  Key Facts to report:

  • Date of  incident
  • Location of incident
  • Scheduled time of competition
  • Your name and role (sports official, observer, spectator, coach)
  • Identification of each perpetrator (name, physical description, clothing, age, picture- anything that can help authorities to identify the perpetrator.  DO NOT put yourself at risk to obtain more information)
  • Description of incident


Submit an Assault and Abuse Report by Sport