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January 14, 2021 Return to Play/Mask Mandate

(posted December 30, 2020 7:15 PM)

On December 28, 2020 Governor Tim Walz issued an update to his executive orders permitting youth sports to hold contests again as of January 14, 2021. These orders will maintain that indoor contact sports will require all participants present to wear masks- players and officials included. Furthermore, it does not permit spectators to be present (with exceptions due to specific conditions).

Edited 1/6/2021 7:15 PM: Spectators will be permitted at events. Please check with the competition authority for their specific rules.

The Minnesota State Referee Committee issues the following guidance for soccer and futsal officials who intend to work indoor matches:

  1. Per the governor's mandate, you are required to wear a mask at all times when officiating in an indoor facility. The SRC supports this mandate.

    If you are uncomfortable with physical exertion while wearing a mask, we recommend you do not work matches inside and wait for the outdoor season to commence in spring 2021. We will not support any exemptions for any official who claims they cannot wear a mask while officiating. If you cannot wear a mask, you should not officiate.

    Officials who officiate USSF-affiliated matches in these facilities but refuse to comply with Minnesota law will not receive support from the State Referee Committee.
  2. Law 5 of IFAB's Laws of the Game empowers the referee to ensure players are legally equipped, but only per guidance provided in Law 4. Government-mandated masks fall outside the purveyance of the Laws of the Game. Under the Laws, the referee has no authority to enforce the wearing of masks by players, coaches, or anybody else in attendance.
  3. The competition authorities (MYSA, TCSL, Minnesota Futsal, and their member clubs) may empower the referee to enforce their mask mandates under their competition rules. To do so, each competition authority is responsible for issuing these rules and making them readily available to any official who works their competition. Guidance should include a very clear protocol. This protocol can include (some or all of) these items:

    a) specific actions that the referee is to take when a participant is not in compliance

    b) identify an individual present who is responsible for assistance with enforcement of both spectator and mask mandates

    c) expansion of misconduct should individuals not be in compliance

    d) conditions for match suspension or abandonment

    e) reporting mechanisms for violations of spectator and mask mandates
  4. If a competition authority does not issue clear guidance to officials as outlined in section (3) of this statement, or does not clarify that officials are not responsible for enforcement of spectator and mask mandates and provide relief when an official feels unsafe because of participants not following mandates, it is the recommendation of Minnesota State Referee Committee that referees do NOT officiate matches for that competition.

    If a protocol is provided by a competition but an official is not comfortable working within that protocol, the official should not officiate matches for that competition.
  5. Officials are under no obligation to accept any assignment in which they do not feel safe. Competitions may not discipline officials who refuse, turn back, or abandon match assignments due to the match official feeling unsafe.

    Competitions may discipline match officials who violate state executive orders and put other participants' health at risk through non-compliance with those orders.
  6. Officials who accept and work match assignments under current state laws accept all responsibility for risks of injury or illness endured by working said matches. Once an official engages in officiating a match, they accept the conditions in which they choose to work. The State Referee Committee has no authority or ability to influence competition schedules or make decisions about whether playing or officiating indoor matches in a pandemic is worth the health risk, and has no responsibility for the health of officials who choose to work under current conditions. Competition authorities are responsible for their own liability with regards to participants and the independent contractors they hire to officiate their matches.

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