No referees available: cancellation of East Mountain soccer games

An empty net set the scene at East Mountain as scheduled games against Pojoaque Valley were cancelled. Photo by Ger Demarest.

East Mountain High School’s boys and girls soccer teams were scheduled to

host Pojoaque Valley on Oct. 1, but the games were cancelled because no referees were available.

The cancellation came on the heels of Albuquerque media coverage regarding unruly fan behavior at soccer games, raising questions if there was any connection.

“I guess there’s quite a few games that’ve been cancelled, there was an article in the Journal about it,” East Mountain girls soccer head coach John Sabrowski said.

Both the Albuquerque Journal and KRQE-TV reported on Sept. 30 that the New Mexico Activities Association’s executive director, Sally Marquez, sent a letter to high school athletic departments regarding the behavior of soccer fans and its impact on officials.

Marquez’ letter noted that a couple of officials had resigned over fan behavior and some games had been cancelled due to a lack of officials.

East Mountain’s principal and athletic director Trey Smith said he was informed that the cancellation “wasn’t related to Sally’s bigger concern about parents/spectators. They just couldn’t find anyone.”

Dusty Young, the NMAA’s associate director, confirmed that the cancellation of East Mountain’s games was not related to Marquez’ letter about spectator behavior, but was due to the number of games scheduled on that particular date and time and the total number of officials available.

Sabrowski said Tuesdays generally are difficult to schedule referees. “When I spoke to Dave Lauben about it, he said a lot of teams schedule on Tuesdays and district games have priority,” Sabrowski said. “This [game against Pojoaque] wasn’t a district game.”

Lauben assigns officials to high school soccer games in the Albuquerque region.

“Well, there had been an article in the Albuquerque Journal about unruly fan behavior so at first we thought it might be due to that, but it’s really just a lack of referees, it’s a supply and demand issue,” East Mountain boys head coach John Larson said, adding, “It’s disappointing because we wanted to play.”

Sabrowski said the schools are working together to try and reschedule the games.

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