Patrick Duffy Doubles Down On Latest Soccer Guidance Amid Female Athlete Backlash

Just the jolt of morning coffee that we all need on a Wednesday: The latest (now removed) OSAA soccer rules interpretation has some bombshell quotes that are sparking debate about the standards that girls are held to by soccer officials in Oregon. Here are some of the juiciest quotes:

  • “Do not referee a girls’ game the same way you would a boys’ game. Girls are much less likely to want to play through some contact with opponents that boys’ typically want to shrug off.”
  • “If you hear a player shouting at an opponent, hit the whistle immediately and loudly! If you do not stop play immediately for this, there is a very high probability that a fight is about to start.”
  • “At least one and probably two cards need to come out quickly, so the players can go to the bench and calm down.”
  • “In my experience, high school girls do not shout like that without provocation, either.”

All of these quotes were in response to what is described as a “huge upswing in red cards in girls’ games this season for violent conduct.” Needless to say, this isn’t going over well with the female athletes of Oregon, nor some girls’ soccer coaches either. After posting it up on the Elite Oregon Girls Instagram Page on Wednesday morning and encouraging athletes to speak out, the responses have gone just about the way you’d think they would go. Here are some of the athlete responses:

  • “Officiate soccer not gendered soccer. It is upsetting that refs are blatantly suggesting otherwise.”
  • “I don’t even know what to say. This is so sexist and just plain wrong.”
  • “There are rules to the game. If you enforce them, then there is no gender involved in it”
  • “I think that girls are more likely to play through the physicality and be able to walk away from a problematic situation than boys do in games.”
  • “My team plays physical in games, and we get carded by referees because we play tough. We even had a player carded for a clean slide tackle because the referee thought she was being aggressive.”
  • “This definitely enforces stereotypes, deeply underestimates us and our capabilities as athletes, and is just disappointing to hear.”
Photo: Elite Oregon Girls

A female soccer coach described her reaction to reading the latest guidance, “Sexist, misinformed, biased, are a few of the words I’d choose. The fear many female athletes and coaches have when they have a male official. Mr. Duffy reinforced every stereotype we often think when games are called differently, or we are treated differently by officials. It’s great to know our fears are a reality and being reinforced daily by him.” However, Mr. Duffy has responded to EOG and doubled down on his guidance to Oregon’s soccer officials in an email to EOG on Wednesday afternoon.

He started by using an analogy about how different cultures play the sport differently, “A game between two Hispanic teams is different than one between two British teams. And, if the game is between a Hispanic team and a British team, it will be a very difficult game to officiate because the players’ expectations of what the referee should call and what they should leave alone is so different.” He goes on to explain how the British aren’t fans of shirt pulling, but are fine with plays targeting the ankles, while Hispanics have the attitude of shirt pulling being fine but no shots at the ankles. He then translated it to what he views in the high school landscape, “High school girls are not as physically aggressive as high school boys. Girls want to play a much more tactical, technical game, without, for example, having an opponent sliding into them to knock the ball away. Boys are much more “I’m bigger, I’m faster than you, I kick harder so get out of my way.” He clarifies that he isn’t saying that one is better than the other, but that they are different in how they play.

Continuing, Mr. Duffy stated that, “If referees do not understand that there are these differences, they are going to impose some ideas about what is fair and what is not fair that the players don’t like. If the referee lets too much go, the players will enforce their own justice. That means more fouls, that means more injuries and that means more violence.” He went on to elaborate and say, “It is not the case that a bunch of referees are saying that we need to keep a tighter reign on them. It is also the case that the players don’t want their opponents playing against them like that. And any adult ideas that ‘the girls need to play more physical to toughen them up” are absurd and, frankly, out of date.”

Photo: Elite Oregon Girls

In his final statement of note, Mr. Duffy compared the small schools to big schools in officiating for soccer, “Small schools’ players, boys and girls, want to play less physical than the larger schools’ players do. Referees absolutely have to recognize those differences as well. Yes, there are exceptions to my broad generalizations. I find that girls and Hispanic boys share more stylistically than they do with white bread suburban boys. Again, the referee has to adjust how loose or tight they call the game, depending on the players’ expectations. If both teams are yelling “referee!!” the referee needs to tighten up. Far more games are ruined by referees who don’t call enough than are ruined by calling too much and that’s true at all levels of the game.”

In a statement about the situation, Elite Oregon Girls has the following: “Mr. Duffy’s comments are sexist, degrading, and harmful in every sense of the word. Clearly, new leadership is in order and needed to guide soccer officials: I call on Mr. Duffy to resign his position as OSAA’s SRI and install new leadership in his spot. Not only are his comments harmful, but they overshadow the officials that do their best to call the games fairly. This sets back the trust of officials with female athletes’ way beyond even pre-COVID, as it reveals an ugly truth and confirms fears of double standard officiating.”

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