The pre-match coin toss is an under-looked aspect of refereeing the beautiful game. It’s where first impressions are formed, where expectations can be set, and of course where the captains determine which ends of the pitch they will play from and which side will take the first-half kickoff.
It’s an important enough event that in-depth case studies have even been done on them. I’m not going to be writing about that today, but I do recommend having a look at L’Arbitre’s four-part series (above), which is an extremely interesting read.
What I will be talking about is the thing you need to execute a coin toss: the coin. I’ve been growing a coin collection over the past year or two—something that’s probably about equal in size to my whistle collection—and I’m always on the lookout for more.
Very few things annoy me more than when fellow referees turn up for a match with a simple 25¢ coin that they take out of their wallet to perform the pre-match toss. I mentioned first impressions at the top of the article – what kind of first impression does using a piece of actual currency convey, compared to, let’s say, a blue and yellow FIFA coin?
Anyways, let’s go through the coins I’ve accumulated over time:
FIFA Fair Play coin – blue & yellow
I’d been looking for a FIFA coin for a while when I ordered this one, so I was pretty excited for it to come in. While I was a little disappointed by the fact that it was so light and a little flimsy—meaning I can’t use it when it’s windy—it’s still pretty cool to have in my collection.
Diameter: 3 cm (1.18 in) Thickness: 1.5 mm Where to get one: eBay ($15 CAD) – can probably find it elsewhere if you look hard enough
RefsWorld coin – blue & yellow
The RefsWorld coin is very similar in design to the FIFA one, but quite a bit more sturdy and obviously not FIFA-branded. It flips extremely smoothly, and is probably one of my top two or three favourites in my collection.
Diameter: 3.3 cm (1.3 in) Thickness: 3 mm Where to get one: RefsWorld or TheTopRef ($6 CAD)
Olympics coin – red & black
This coin has the Olympic Games logo on one side, although to be honest I have no idea how official it is, given that there’s about a million listings of the same item on eBay. It feels a little cheaply-constructed, although it does the job perfectly fine.
Diameter: 3.5 cm (1.38 in) Thickness: 3 mm Where to get one: eBay ($6 CAD) – multiple listings, find one with a North American seller as they ship far faster
Fox 40 coin – brass, heads & tails
This is the only coin I use which necessitates a call for ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ instead of a colour, so it’s unique in my collection. Made of brass, it’s quite a nice coin, and it’s big enough that you can see the result of the toss from a standing position, without needing to bend down.
Diameter: 3.7 cm (1.46 in) Thickness: 3 mm Where to get one: Amazon, Fox 40, HeyRef, and others ($20 CAD) – unfortunately, you can’t get the coin on its own, it just comes with the Fox 40 three-pack of whistles
Canadian Premier League coin – black & white
I actually won this coin in a draw through the CPL app, although really I just won a chance to buy the coin, so I still had to pay for it. Still, this a collector’s item, and something no other grassroots referee is going to have.
This was the coin that started my collection, one that I received at an annual tournament in my area. I actually have two of these, which I picked up in consecutive years at the same tournament, but I don’t use either much anymore, just simply because literally every referee in my city has one.