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Manpower: An unprecedented shortage of arbitrators in Quebec

Manpower: An unprecedented shortage of arbitrators in Quebec

The shortage of referees on the province’s territory is worse than ever, and a young Quebec official denounces loudly and spells out the insults and outrageous comments he shouted at his teammates encouraging them more and more to quit.

“You are the worst referee in the whole league!” That sentence shouted from the stands earlier this summer by a coach’s mother and wife was the straw that broke the camel’s back for referee Jean-Nicolas Leroux.

The 16-year-old, in charge of the Noroît baseball league in Quebec City, questioned himself after a 15U B level game. After four years on the job, this ugly bumper almost overpowered him. his passion

In football, as in the majority of sports, there is a clear lack of officials.

Didier Debuscheur’s photo

In football, as in the majority of sports, there is a clear lack of officials.

“I’m starting to get tired. I rule baseball because I love it. The worst, is screaming all the time, wondering if I’m any good at refereeing, if I’m where you are.” […] At some point, I’m not sure if I’m right. It just starts to cross your mind,” recounts Jean-Nicolas, who has already received other, non-complimentary comments from the same coach.

The chief referee of the Quebec region, Mathieu Marco, was forced to intervene to ensure that his official’s services could continue. From now on, Jean-Nicolas no longer goes to matches in which one of the teams of the coach in question is involved.

series of insults

“Rotten!” “You are not good,” “You are blind”… The list is long when the student enumerates what he could bear. He is far from the only person.

This summer, in the Quebec City area alone, 15 officials chose to leave, disgusted with serving as a lightning rod for parents, children and coaches unhappy with the decision, says Mathieu Marco. “I lose 40% of Level 1 Rulers every year.”

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The situation is no different in other parts of the province. This phenomenon affects school sports, hockey, soccer and soccer (see boxes).

For this reason, Sylvain Seindon, head coach at Baseball Quebec, published an open letter to all union parents at the end of August. He said that running on baseball diamonds and in the stands does a lot of damage to the sport.


In 2021, Marko appeared on social media after a coach threatened a 16-year-old referee with ‘extension’.

He is no longer a referee in this match at all. “We see there is a crisis. Parents do not even feel that their young [arbitres] Safe on a ball court in a 9U or 11U game. This is where it gets a little scary,” he says.

Jean-Nicolas hopes his testimony will change mindsets. With a calm tone and clear thoughts, he reviews his few notes he prepared before the interview to get the message across.

He has seen many of his colleagues leave the profession and knows there is an acute shortage of new talent.

To stop the bleeding, Jean-Nicolas suggests to those tempted by a grand slam-worthy singing journey to put themselves in the shoes of the official’s father. “I wish they thought it could be their son,” he said frankly.

A wall will rise before us.

Between 2019 and 2022, Quebec baseball lost nearly 900 of those 2,109 referees. During this time, the number of members jumped nearly 6%. “It’s even more disastrous for us. For more than 10 consecutive years, we’ve seen an increase of 7 to
10% of our membership. And the rulers go the other way. I tell you a wall will stand in front of us,” says Sylvain Seindon, head coach at Quebec Baseball and a top-level coach for 35 years.

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Notably, these numbers prompted him to publish an “open letter to parents” at the end of August, during the playoffs. Mr. Seindon deplores the “chronic intimidation” faced by governors and points out that it is a major factor in retaining officials. Many leave within the first three years.

“First-year, second- and third-year governors are trying to build their confidence. If you have to yell at them all the time, they won’t come back,” he says.

problem Since the epidemic

The Quebec Student Sports Network (RSEQ) “doesn’t expect it to have an easy season” in terms of referees, but is pleased to see the Department of Recreation, Sports and Physical Activity (DSLAP) begin work to help sports federations find possible solutions for referees. generate a problem.

RSEQ CEO Gustav Roel estimates the officials’ loss at 25% for all sports federations. The problem has really grown since the pandemic. For those who were already considering leaving arbitration, it hastened the resignation process. And the federations were not able to promote because there was no sport in the schools,” he explains.

Roel warns that it “could happen” that matches could be played without a referee but this is not the first alternative being considered. He pointed out that insults directed at rulers “do not help” in the face of the shortage.

Solution hockey

” The solution [à la pénurie d’officiels] says Marc Mizunov, Quebec Hockey Administrator for the past seven years. “The key to our success at a senior level has always been our stewardship programme. If young people are left to their own devices on the ice, they are more likely to make mistakes, which leads to frustration. With frustration you can explode. But to get there, Mr. Mizunov is still aware that from Necessary to succeed in retaining referees, whose number fell from 4,599 in 2019-2020 to just 2,770 in 2020-2021. The uncertainty associated with the hockey season due to the pandemic and the insults thrown at the zebra men explain this shortage.

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A “worrying” lack of football

“It really is an alarming situation at the moment. Hugo Dallaire, who is responsible for appointing referees for the football school in the Quebec City region, does not hide words when he talks about the lack of referees in football fields. According to Mr. Dallaire, the Provincial Referees Association of Quebec City includes Currently there are 335 officials in charge, which is significantly less than the number of “great years”, during which 500 officials held their ranks.

Gives the example of a match at Saint-Jean-Eudes, played on September 10. “Saturday, it will take between 9 and 12 officials to cover Saint-Jean-Eudes. There will be three of them,” he says.

Although referees can sometimes be the target of spectator comments, this is not a chronic problem in football, says Mr Dallaire. »

We were all spared that in the area. 95% of our administrators are adults. It is much more difficult to yell at them than for a 13-year-old. And when we leave the field, we are several referees together unlike in baseball where the referee can be alone. »

Baseball: More players, fewer referees


  • 32,936 players
  • 2109 referees


  • 33,352 players
  • 1523 judgments


  • 35,275 players
  • 1207 rulers

* 2020 numbers are missing due to the epidemic

Source: Quebec baseball