Never assume a match will be canceled. Matches are frequently played in bad weather. With the addition of artifical turf fields, this is more true than ever. While there have been some classic matches played in horrendous weather, these are neither professional players nor do we have professional grounds keepers. While any one match may be played in sloppy conditions, we also must be good citizens and do our part in keeping the fields playable for the season.
The first responsibility for determining whether or not a match will be played rests with the Prince William Park Authority. If the Park Authority closes the fields then there will be no games. If the Park Authority determines a field is open, the decision to play or not to play then rests with the referee(s).
If a match is canceled with notice, the assignor will change the status of the match in GameOfficials which will send an email and/or text notification to the referee. However, often the decision hasn't been made or the information hasn't been disseminated before the referee has to leave for the scheduled assignment.
If the status of the match is in doubt, the referee should, in order:
- Check the game status in GameOfficials
- Check the field status at PWSI.org
- Call a Prince William County hotline for field conditions
We always prefer a referee wait for an official notice from PWSRA or PWSI. Many times in the past, the V.P. of Operations and the Assignor were successful in finding a playable field only to discover that a referee made other plans because they took it upon themselves to call the hotline and discovered the field was closed.
If you arrive at a field that the Park Authority has not closed, the decision whether to play or continue a match rests with the referee. Only the Referee may stop or terminate a match once started due to inclement weather or impaired field conditions, unless, of course, the Park Authority shows up and declares the fields closed immediately.
Examples of weather bad enough to stop or terminate a match include:
• Severe weather such as tornado, hail, lightning either present or approaching;
• Falling snow with freezing and dropping temperature;
• Falling sleet or ice and any temperature;
• Darkness such that the ball cannot be properly followed with the eye;
• Rain or fog so heavy you cannot see the goal from the halfway line;
• Driving rain that makes running into it hard, almost painful;
• Strong wind that makes running into it almost impossible.
The first four examples probably call for immediate match termination. The others can be “waited out.”
There is no time limit on waiting for a restart. Common sense rules. Do not give up too quickly, but do not wait so long that any succeeding matches may be unduly delayed in starting.
Mattias Collin plays in a downpour in Nurmijarvi, Finland, Sept. 2017.
Remember also that, even though the weather may clear and the skies may turn blue and sunny, the field conditions may have been severely impaired. Before trying to restart, check to make sure the field is safe for play. One rule of thumb is if half or more of the field is underwater, it is unsafe. If you don’t feel safe running up and down the field, don’t ask the players to do so.
If you are on an all-weather surface field, you can wait it out because of their quick draining capabilities.
If you elect to terminate the match, be sure to write an explanation on the Match report. This should be short and to the point (as “heavy rain,” “lightning at the field,” “field made unsafe by heavy rains” or similar), and must include the point of termination, e.g., “in the 38th minute.". Be concise and precise.
Referees do not determine forfeits or reschedules. This is the responsibility of the playing association, but they will rely heavily on the information recorded on the Match Report.
Don’t let anyone talk you into or out of terminating a match. Your responsibility is to the safety of the players, not the inconvenience of the coaches or parents.