How to improve refereeing standards in T&T; Look Loy submits proposal to TTFA 

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“It is the perception of many that the assessment of referees by their peers is insufficient for a thorough performance assessment, and moreso, for the necessary follow-up action, including retraining and possible disciplinary measures, that should arise from assessment.”

The following proposal geared towards the improvement of refereeing in Trinidad and Tobago was submitted to TTFA president David John-Williams by TTSL president, FC Santa Rosa head coach and former CONCACAF technical officer Keith Look Loy and forwarded to Wired868:

Photo: Then WASA striker and Trinidad and Tobago legend Stern John (centre) has a word with referee Neal Brizan during the 2014-15 domestic season.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

Dear Sir,

It is the view of most persons involved in local football that the standard of local refereeing is not what is desired if the standard of our game is to improve. Through the years, there have been complaints from all quarters that many referees are not performing as they should. The performance of a referee can impact not only on one match, but also on a club’s entire season.

The low standard of refereeing is the consequence of the following:

KFC Munch Pack

  1. Weak referee recruitment programme;
  2. Inadequate training/retraining programme;
  3. Ineffective referee assessment and lack of consequences for poor performance;
  4. Dubious match appointments.

FC Santa Rosa proposes that TTFA should engage the membership of TTRFA and, in particular, its affiliated league in the discussion of the following:

Photo: Referee Larry Lalchan (centre) and fourth official Gordon Maloney (second from left) share a moment before kick-off during a Pro League contest in the 2014 season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
  1. A scientific and adequately funded referee recruitment programme to be administered by the TTFA Referee Department;
  2. Creation by said affiliated leagues of their own referee panels—based on the current TTFA Referee Committee/Department referee assessment—which they would be responsible for and would manage in collaboration with the TTFA Referee Department. The example of major leagues across the globe is there to be examined in this regard;
  3. Reconstitution of the Referee Committee to allow for representation of affiliated leagues in same;
  4. Establishment of an independent Referee Assessment Board, which would advise affiliated leagues and TTFA Referee Department on performance assessment of referees as well as on referee retraining and possible promotion and/or demotion of referees to and/or from affiliated league referee panels;
  5. League participation in the appointment of referees to matches. Specifically, each affiliated league should have one (1) representative on the Appointment Committee.

Independent Referee Assessment Board

Specifically, with regard to the independent Referee Assessment Board, FC Santa Rosa proposes the following:

Photo: Referee Crystal Sobers (centre) prepares to caution Angels midfielder Jodi-Ann McGregor.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)


We recognise that the TTFA Referees Committee assesses referees but the positive effect of this exercise is not visible to those involved in matches. We also know that there is a problem with attendance in referee (re)training sessions, resulting in many referees lacking the physical and technical skills and expertise to perform professionally on match day.

In order to engender confidence in the referees of Trinidad and Tobago, the assessment of their performance must also engender confidence. The independence of the assessors and the assessment process is critical for the credibility of said process, hence we believe there is urgent need to establish a body of independent referee assessors.

It is the perception of many that the assessment of referees by their peers is insufficient for a thorough performance assessment, and moreso, for the necessary follow-up action, including retraining and possible disciplinary measures, that should arise from assessment.

The perception of ‘himself assessing himself’ will always plague the Referee Committee.

Photo: Referee Neal Brizan (right) cautions Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams for dissent during a Pro League encounter against W Connection in the 2014/15 season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Theoretical Framework

Many management theorists, such as Brown and Heywood (2005), posit that performance appraisal provides the most direct and dynamic link between on-the-job performance and human resource development. They further state that a good performance appraisal system provides for an automatic and highly valid basis for the evaluation of all learning and development endeavours.

If we are to improve the game of football, all aspects of the game must be willing to stand the scrutiny of independent eyes and we must be willing to communicate about performance so that the required standards will be met.

According to Delahaye and Choy (2017), ‘Developmental performance appraisals concentrate on identifying, honestly and accurately, the developmental needs of an individual for successful present and future performance in an organization.’

The objective of this proposal is not to undermine the credibility and/or status of referees but to assist in identifying weaknesses in performance, and to facilitate the enhancement of referee capacity to the benefit of the beautiful game.

Photo: Referee Hasely Collette (centre) plays peacemaker while then Guaya United captain Ryan Stewart (right) assesses the situation during 2015/16 CNG NSL Premiership Division action at Matura.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Modern performance management theory requires that all persons affected by the performance of an individual should play a part in the assessment of that individual. The theory of “360 Degree Assessment” is that everyone affected by the individual’s performance should be able to state how (s)he perceives that performance, and how it affects them.

Samantha Gluch (2017) is of the view that “360 Degree” provides direct, honest feedback and that, by reviewing the perceptions of others, one can see clearly the effect one’s behaviours and attitudes have on others.

The referee affects the players, coaches and spectators. It may be difficult to poll the spectators but certainly the players and coaches should have a say.

Heidi Wiesenfelder (2017) states that appraisals based on input from a variety of colleagues provide more comprehensive data for review and development purposes. The idea is to comprehensively review the performance of our referees with a view to assisting them to continuously develop and become more efficient and effective officials.

Photo: Welcome back!
On his Pro League return against San Juan Jabloteh in the 2014/15 season, Central FC coach Terry Fenwick (left) was ordered out of the technical area by fourth official Rashby McPhie.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Composition of the Board

The board should comprise the following:

Chairman, recommended by TTFA, [and] three (3) members proposed by each affiliated league, e.g. TTSL, SSFL, TTPL, Regional Associations. They would be the actual assessors and would be responsible to their parent body.

General rules of the Board

  1. The Board will elect at its first meeting a Secretary from among its members. Once elected, the Chairman shall have a casting vote whenever a decision is tied;
  2. A minimum of half of the members plus one will constitute a quorum of the meetings of the Board;
  3. ‘Robert’s rules’ of meetings will apply at all meetings;
  4. The Board will report in writing to the Chairman of the TTFA Referee Committee, and via the TFA Secretary to the Annual General Meeting of the TTFA;
  5. The Board will regulate its business in accordance with the rules of the world governing body of football, FIFA.
Photo: WASA FC captain Cleveland Cambridge (third from left) and Kevon Henry (centre) lead the complaints to referee CJ O’ Brien after he awarded a penalty to FC Santa Rosa during TTSL One action in St Joseph on 9 July 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The Role of the Board

  1. To set standards of performance for referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
  2. To develop assessment criteria for the comprehensive assessment of all referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
  3. To recommend training and professional development for referees;
  4. To develop a merit list based on the assessment of referees in Trinidad and Tobago;
  5. To develop a performance bonus system to reward excellent performance;
  6. To conduct ongoing assessment of referees.

Assessment methodologies

It is recommended that the assessment methodologies utilise the “360 Degree” approach to performance assessment. This approach is a developmental approach to human resource assessment and development aimed at unearthing the weaknesses and strengths of individuals so as to maximise their performance.

Photo: Point Fortin Civic player Andrei Pacheco (centre) shares his disgust with referee Gyasi McDonald (left) while Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams tries to calm things down.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In the case of the referees, it would involve the assessment of referees by the players, the coaches, fellow referees and a referee assessor.

The independent assessor would be responsible for the conduct of the assessment and the distribution and collection of the assessment forms.

Players would be selected randomly by the assessor to fill out a simple questionnaire at the end of every match while the coaches would be given a standardised document to fill out on their impression of the referees performance.

Performance score

Based on the result of the “360 Degree” assessment, the referee would be given a performance score for the month. At the end of the year, the merit list would be developed based on the average score of each referee for the year.

At the end of the year, bonuses would be paid to the deserving referees and those who need to improve would be informed and training recommended where necessary.

Photo: (From left) San Juan Jabloteh’s Tyrone Charles, Caledonia AIA’s Nathan Lewis and Kareem Joseph await the verdict of match referee Tricia Des Vignes during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

A mid-year assessment score would allow for promotion and/or demotion of referees.


The referee affects the result of the match and sometimes the result of the league season or competition. If we wish to pursue football excellence, then everyone needs to be accountable for his/her performance.

So long as the TTFA Referee Committee and TTFA Referee Department continue to assess their members, the perception that there is no accountability will remain and, once there is a lack of confidence in the process, then the distrust of referees will continue in our football.

If we really believe that referees are critical to the game, then we must be confident that the assessment of referee performance is valid and effective.

FC Santa Rosa urges the TTFA to examine this proposal honestly and objectively and to include it in a national discussion on refereeing—as has been called for by the Central Football Association and the TT Super League, which has already taken the decision that the formation of its own referee project is a burning necessity.

I anticipate your response.

Photo: Veteran Central FC midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) gives referee Gyasi McDonald his yellow card back during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)
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  1. ..This is the Secretary of the NFA commenting here. A damning comment on the dire state of refereeing, which the powers that be in TTFA and in refereeing happily side step while they seek to make the whole issue about Look Loy. The problems with referees will remain long after Look Loy goes unless measures are adopted to improve the situation. My proposal is a starting point for a discussion on how to move us forward..

  2. I know the northzone has tried to implement a referee’s assessment (as a trial run) for the 2017 season due to many years of constant complaining . This was to enable the association to be better equiped with tangible data to be presented to the ref assoc.. to aid and improve the standard of match officiating. This system has been in use in the U S, whereby the referee/s submits an assessment form with his personal identification number to the teams he is assigned to officiate.
    The manager/coach or other qualified personnell of the teams evaluate the referee’s performance and then mail it to the association (this is done a day or two after the game)…..the rest is self explanitory everything else in in place.
    The problem in TnT is that:
    1) We like to complain but not write or follow up
    2) Referees think that they are a law unto themselves.
    3) It is more of hustle than a profession.
    4) There is no desire to referee beyond TnT>> If there is a desire other major artributes are drastically lacking.
    Can anyone list the amount of TnT referees that participate in Caribbean & CONCACAF tournaments at centre and assistant in the last 5 yrs.

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  4. Clearly some people here know nothing about assessment and performance management. The issue seems to be anoyt the medsenger and not the message. Msybe yf the propoa had cog from Varlos or Bas Leff it would have been acceptedby hose here

  5. I agree with Gerard. Who would be better positioned to offer constructive criticism of the performance of a referee than other referees (his/her peers)? Could non-engineers offer critical analyses of the performance of an engineer? Could non-MD’s constructively opine on a doctor’s adherence to the professional standard of care?

    • Nigel, Keith is not proposing to do this himself. He is outlining a framework, which operates effectively elsewhere. The actual mechanics will be performed by the body he suggested which will clearly include several senior referees. And Keith has indeed offered several proposals for the improvement of football. Indeed, he acted on one such proposal by initiating the Super League to take football back to communities thus broadening the captive pool of talent and offering a platform for player development

    • Brian “It is the perception of many that the assessment of referees by their peers is insufficient for a thorough performance assessment, and more so, for the necessary follow up action, including retraining and possible disciplinary measures, that should arise from assessment.”

      My question and observation still stands. Even if a ‘body’ is created and includes these “senior referees,” what could the other members possibly offer, given their lack of subject matter expertise?

    • Nigel S. Scott they can offer a lot! Performance management and measurement, psychological preparation, etc. The assessment of any set of professionals (in a robust performance management framework) requires a multifaceted approach.

    • How does “psychological preparation” aid a post-facto assessment of a particular referee’s performance? How are they to measure performance (let alone ‘manage’ it… whatever that means) if they themselves are not referees?

    • It’s one thing to talk about including non-referees in the disciplinary process, it’s another matter altogether to talk about including them in the performance assessment process.

    • You could write using a textbook but when the whistle blows, the people with the hardest job on the field are the referees. Most people who criticize referees, when you put a whistle in their mouths and tell them to make instant judgment calls, they are no better. What you want referees to know are the rules that involve judgment calls.

    • I think the performance assessment part should really be mainly performed by referees as well, but why not use video and referees from other CFU and/or CONCACAF countries to assist there??

    • Brian I have no issue with that, my reaction was just to the quote in the lede regarding the assessment part.

    • Nigel S. Scott that’s easy. As one example, speaking from first hand experience. My former boss (a senior partner at a consulting firm) upon retirement started a sports performance management firm. He has never played basketball (he’s 5’7″ and maybe 140 lbs) and now works with an NBA team as the director of performance management where he’s tasked with performance evaluation and leading the development of plans to improve individual and team performance. He brings his psychological and motivational assessment training and incorporates the technical basketball elements (which he gathers from other members of his team) to provide scorecards and development plans. Another example, during Kerry Packer, sports psychologists like Rudy Webster were attached to teams to help with preparation and assessment. The conquering WI teams emerging from that era dominated the world. The fall off in our cricket began when that process was discontinued. I can provide several other examples, because with said former partner we worked with many sporting organization – basketball, soccer, rugby, cricket

    • Nigel S. Scott got it. meaning that i understand your point

    • How does management and performance techniques teach someone to referee. Those are measurement tools to evaluate a referee’s performance. That doesn’t teach and explain the rules. Am I wrong? What’s missing in this discussion is how many of our referees either know the game or played the game, or are being paid commensurate with what you are asking them to do. I remember coaching in the U.S. travel league, and if we think the referees here are bad, you ain’t seen nothing. There was one fundamental problem. Most of the referees never played or knew about the game until they came to take the course. The ignorance was demonstrated in many ways but the most obvious was the shoulder to shoulder tackle. Are our referees former players?

    • Gerard Johnson because even if they have played and went to tons of classes, they now have to perform and be prepared. They also have to develop further. Performance in no area is purely about technical details. Have a chat with Rudy Webster and he was not there to teach them to bowl or bat

    • Brian Harry Don’t get me wrong I understand what you are saying but someone still has to teach them to bowl or bat. Someone still must teach and explain the rules and then the referee has to go out and in a split second interpret the rules. I

    • Gerard Johnson surely, and that’s what the FIFA approved training does. And we have had some excellent referees in the past. I don’t know why the quality has fallen off, so that’s why I’m also suggesting a more holistic approach. So I think that we are more in agreement than it might seem

    • Brian Harry Maybe because there is more football being played and not enough good referees to officiate them all. When the game began to grow in the U.S. we suffered a similar fate and the better referees were assigned to the better leagues.

    • Brian, anybody suitably trained could weigh in on performance metrics, but it all depends on what’s being measured/analyzed. W/r/t your former boss and his new NBA gig, I don’t know what ‘performance’ he’s measuring, but if it’s marketing analysis, that is completely different from analyzing adherence to NBA gameplay rules, no? A non-referee assisted by video replay might be able to retrospectively review how an match official complied with the Laws of the Game, but that person, in conducting that review, would still have to be trained on said Laws. Why train someone on an academic application of the law, when there are trained and experienced officials better placed to perform said review… even if with the assistance of video replay. This is my point. While I don’t discount the use of performance metrics on the whole, when it comes to compliance with rules there simply appears to be no better substitute for the expert practitioners currently in play.

    • Gerard Johnson true. And if the current crop is bad and don’t show or perform well, we may attract even less. That’s goign to be the problem in TT. Back when I played Colleges Football (old name) we had guys like Downer who was brilliant so the profession was more attractive.

    • Nigel S. Scott oh really. guess i wasted my time last 20+ years. To hell with all that training and schooling. Oh well

    • Brian I’m not sure what in my comment merits that response, as I don’t know anything about what you do professionally, for me to comment specifically on whether you have or have not wasted your time. If you are “suitably trained” I’m sure you would add value to any performance analysis team… but again, unless you could clarify, I don’t see how even you would add to performance analysis as it pertains to officiating. I am open to learning understanding more from your perspective.

    • Are you claiming that team officials, players and other stakeholders are unfamiliar with up-to-date laws of the game ? Most teams with focus on professionalism retain the services of recognized referees to ensure officials and players understand rules of the game published by FIFA.
      Let’s face the fact that generally our standard of Refereeing in TT is below par.

  6. Where are the proposals to improve the standard of football in the pro leagues? Steups

  7. Carlos Lee…it is stated clearly in the proposal letter…that he submitted it as TTSL President and FC Santa Rosa Head Coach….he submitted it under both hats…..

    • Dexter – I think you misread the article. What you stated above was simply a description of who Keith Lok Loy is. That was provided by the author. Within the article itself it is clearly stated who is making the proposal – i.e. FC Santa Rosa (“FC Santa Rosa proposes that TTFA should engage the membership of TTRFA, and in particular, its affiliated league, in the discussion of the following:”

    • Buh A A it seems that the gag order against the president of the Super league has been lifted oh well welcome back to wired volley eh and continue to share your football wisdom eh. Them really good yes.

    • Carlos Lee even in the quotation you reference the language is clear. Dexter’s point is valid. it clearly states “FC Santa Rosa ……., and in particular its affiliated league”. Its affiliated league could onlt refer to FC Santa Rosa

    • Maybe I need to go back to school and learn to read because from what I read Keith specifically submitted the letter as a representative of FC Santa Rosa, not as president of TTSL.

  8. ..Video. Would you believe the TTFA Referee Department and the TT Football Referee Association do not have video recording capacity? In 2017? Video recording must form part of the Referee Assessment Board activities..

  9. Lasana – Like you is Keith’s publicist? This makes no sense. The president of the TTSL writes and makes public a proposal to improve refereeing in TnT. And he does it not as president of the TTSL, but as head of Santa Rosa FC. Keith is a joke yes.

  10. Like the constructive criticism. Would love to see more video analysis in the game as well. Someone must be able to tape and store the game footage to ensure thorough post game performance analysis. Good stuff!!

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