OSAA And Patrick Duffy Back Down, Issue Apologies Over Sexist Soccer Officiating Guidance

Wilsonville — It only took the OSAA a couple hours after the controversy blew up about officiating guidance directing soccer referees to treat girls differently than boys to take down the offending document. However, it took them almost 48 hours to break their silence about it, which they did so on Friday morning in an email to athletic directors and coaches. The email was written by Monica Maxwell, who oversees soccer for the OSAA. Here is the full apology released by the OSAA:

“The OSAA extends its deepest apologies for the offensive and insensitive comments written in the most recent SRI soccer bulletin. Wo do not condone or support this message, as it goes against our priorities of fairness and inclusion.

We will work directly with all of our SRI’s to educate how their words can be construed and how they represent the Association to the member schools and officials across the state. The OSAA is committed to equity and diversity training and will therefore require Mr. Duffy to complete the NFHS Implicit Bias course as well as the OSAA Equity training.

Thank you to the member schools that have reached out to express their concern. We acknowledge this unfortunate misstep and are taking action to prevent it from happening again. We can and must do better and are committed to doing just that.”

The comments in question were written by Patrick Duffy, who serves as a soccer rules interpreter for the OSAA. In his original guidance released Tuesday, he instructed soccer officials to, “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.” He also produced the following statements in the same guidance:

  • “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.”
Photo: Elite Oregon Girls, A player from Barlow looks for a call from a referee in a game against Beaverton

On the day of the controversy, Mr. Duffy doubled down on his comments in an email response to Elite Oregon Girls, releasing statements that further poured kerosene on a burning building. Among some of the most problematic and eyebrow raising were:

  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”

Mr. Duffy has since released an apology, which was attached in the OSAA emailed apology on Friday morning. “I want to extend my apologies for my comments in the original September 20 Soccer SRI Bulletin #3. The NFHS Soccer Rule book does not differentiate between levels of play or those playing the game. The comments I made unnecessarily segmented populations. My goal was not to compare, contrast or rank soccer between boys and girls. My goal was to describe the nuances that go into each game, but I failed in the attempt to communicate that. I realize now that my comments were hurtful to some and shed a negative light upon the OSAA, the sport of soccer, officiating and myself. I will work diligently to regain the trust of the Association, schools, players, and officials around the state.”

In regard to the apologies issued by the OSAA and Mr. Duffy, Elite Oregon Girls has the following response, “This apology took far too long and is way too late, we should have heard something on Wednesday when this first blew up. Instead, Mr. Duffy fueled the fire with his stereotypical, sexist, doubled down response to EOG on Wednesday afternoon, while the OSAA stayed stone cold silent for the last 40+ hours. A campaign with the support of Oregon’s female athletes will be released in the near future, with one of the goals to have Mr. Duffy removed from his position. This stance has not changed and will continue to be pursued until it is achieved. It would be the first step towards true change.”

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