Soccer Ref Suspended Three Weeks For Using Rock-Paper-Scissors Instead Of Coin Flip

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Over in England, the FA has banned referee David McNamara for 21 days on the charge of “not acting in the best interests of the game,” after some unauthorized improvisation when he forgot his coin ahead of an Oct. 26 Reading-Manchester City match in the Women’s Super League. Because he didn’t have a coin for the pre-game toss, McNamara decided to have the two team captains play rock-paper-scissors to determine who would kick off first—a move that FA women’s refereeing manager Joanna Stimpson called “a moment of madness.”

Because of that breach in protocol, McNamara is out for a hefty three weeks, from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17. While I understand the argument that this bit of silliness would be unthinkable in a Premier League game, and the English women’s clubs deserve an equally dignified pre-match ritual, the penalty still seems too harsh. McNamara might be on to something.


This matters slightly more in American football, where first possession is a lot more relevant, but why can’t we replace coin tosses with rock-paper-scissors? The results of coin tosses are tough to see on TV, they’re boring, and there are only two possible outcomes: heads or tails. If two team captains—who would know each other’s tendencies after enough games in the season—went toe-to-toe for possession to start a game, it’d be infinitely more exciting. It’s a whole other competition before the main event! Plus, wouldn’t you want to see Jon Gruden completely fuck up his RPS strategy in a new way each week?