Youth soccer match raises concerns about parents’ behavior |

Youth soccer match raises concerns about parents’ behavior

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily TribuneAfter red carding coach Miguel Jimenez, far right, a disgruntled parent yanks the card from referee David Lanyi.

A dad in Boston killed a dad serving as a game monitor for allegedly not controlling a physical youth hockey match involving their sons.

A disgruntled parent in Florida broke an umpire’s jaw over a disputed call.

Last Saturday, a soccer match in South Lake Tahoe had all of the ingredients to create another violent youth sports tragedy. Fortunately, South Lake Tahoe didn’t become another statistic for the growing trend of maniacal parents at youth sporting events.

Late in a South Lake Tahoe AYSO under-12 boys’ championship game, a parent, who people refused to name, joined Blue Thunder coach Miguel Jimenez in a heated argument with referee David Lanyi. After Lanyi issued a red card — ejection — to Jimenez, the parent snatched the card out of the referee’s hands.

The argument stemmed from the team’s displeasure over the lack of calls made in the physical championship game.

Blue Thunder players also contributed to the unsportsmanlike conduct with a postgame cheer: One, two, three s—w the referee!

“It was appalling what sportsmanship they were showing the children,” said Michelle Quinn, a parent of a player on the opposing team and the Tahoe Tribune’s office manager. “It was like something you’d see on the 10 o’clock news without the fists flying.”

Naturally, AYSO board members are shocked that some of their parents have set a horrendous example for children in the area.

“I’m very concerned with the children who were out there and the things they were seeing,” said AYSO Regional Commissioner Marsha Roberto. “We have seen what has gone on nationally and what it can escalate into. This is a great town. We don’t want things like this going on here. This is why we raise our kids here.”

Jimenez has been suspended by the league, preventing him from serving as a coach this weekend in an all-star tournament in Carson City. His status for coaching next year is uncertain.

“I can understand why they want to do it, but I have been coaching for two years and this is the first problem I’ve had with any referee,” Jimenez said.

Roberto said board members will spend the off-season developing a plan to maintain better control of parents. Two years ago, the league dabbled with the idea of having parents sign a contract outlining acceptable fan behavior.

Jimenez said he lost control of his emotions when his brother was knocked down in the penalty box with about 90 seconds left in the game.

“My players were getting hammered left and right and I kept telling him and telling him and he didn’t listen to me,” said Jimenez, who claims his players were knocked down three or four times without a call from the referee. “Not only was it the star player on our team, but it was my brother. In all of his games I’ve never seen him on the ground in pain, crying.

“Part of it is my fault for speaking out too loud to the referee and saying what I said to him. But I was looking out for my kids’ safety.”

Lanyi, a respected referee who also referees high school games, did not return a phone call from the Tribune. Roberto said that coaches and parents need to realize how difficult it is to referee a game.

“They need to go out and show respect to these men and women who go out there and do this,” Roberto said. “Those fields are theirs when they are out there. If you don’t like a call, you need to keep quiet.

“One thing I encourage is for all parents to go to referee classes next year and go out on those fields and ref a game. They’ll have a whole new respect for the referee when they take a class and then do their first game.”

Andy Braun, who referees youth and high school soccer games, said the main problem with disputed calls is that spectators don’t know the rules as well as they think they do.

“It’s hard to complain about this league because it’s a volunteer organization,” Braun said. “More people need to get involved with field management and make sure people do know the rules.”

Jimenez, who has been coaching in the league for two years, walked off the field after being issued the red card. The spectator continued his verbal assault of the referee before he was led off the field by parents.

“I didn’t know where the spectator came from,” Jimenez said. “They tell us in clinics that whenever fans start to get wild, they can red-card them right there. If the audience is giving them problems, they can take them out of the game.”

Jimenez was upset that some people thought he led the juvenile cheer for the referee.

“They did say it, and it’s my fault that it happened,” said Jimenez, who later led his team in a cheer for the victorious Blue Demons.

In addition to writing a letter of apology to Lanyi, Jimenez plans to have his players send a letter of apology to the referee.

“I’d like to apologize to the referee for myself and for what my team said,” Jimenez said. “Hopefully, because this issue happened, we can fix it for next season and enjoy a stress-free season with coaches, referees and everything.”

Steve Yingling may be reached via e-mail at

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