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Question Number: 22903

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/5/2010

RE: Select Under 19

Erik of Arlington, TX USA asks...

I have been reading the laws of the game FIFA version and have a question over persistant infringement. I was wondering how many fouls I can commit, though the laws say there is 'no specific number of infringement which constitutes 'persistance''. It does't even specify that the infringement has to be a violation of Law 12.

Are there any rules of thumb you refs go by? Normally, I like committing a foul or two early on just to see how a ref is calling the game, and send an early message to my opponents.

If I am 1 infringment away from the magic number to earn a yellow card, and that foul ends up being also catagorized as 'reckless', or another form of unsporting behavior could I get a yellow card for that offense, plus another one for persistant infringment? That would be like when I got pulled over by the police and got tickets speeding and not wearing my seatbelt on the same stop.

Or, after commiting an act that earns me a yellow card in its own right, would that somehow reset my foul counter so the next run of the mill foul doesn't get me a 2nd yellow and a send off.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Really, Erik? You expect us to give you help to game the system? However, you did say you were actually reading the LOTG, which is marvelous, so I will attempt to explain.

Persistent infringement exists as a means to help a referee control a match. It can be either a series of offenses committed by one player on a team against the opponent, or one offense in a series committed by a team against an opponent.

In other words, that first caution may quickly lead to your last for that game. If the referee has seen a pattern of offenses that to her (and her opinion is the only one that matters here) look like persistent infringement against an opponent and you happen to be the last one to commit the chain of offenses by your team that drew the ref's attention, and if that foul of yours happens, in her opinion to also be reckless, the result can be two cautions issued at one stoppage, one for PI, one for UB, followed by the red card for two cautions.

The use of this punishment option is not common, but it is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities.

Persistent infringement is for repeated offenses of Law 12 or Law 14. The referee will usually warn a player or team of the pattern observed, but this is not required. There is no magic number other than it is usually more than one - but remember that offenses by teammates can count toward a caution for persistent infringement. That first foul you are fond of doing might be the second or third in a string by your teammates - and that spells trouble for you.

Early messages to opponents often have a way of generating early messages from careful out there.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Erik
Persistent infringement is what it says and it is a matter for the referee to decide what is 'persistent'.
And after a yellow has been issued for PI the counter does not reset to zero. The caution is to warn the player not to repeat the behaviour.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

As my colleagues state, it's up to the referee to determine what constitutes 'persistent'. Despite what many think, he is not required to warn you before issuing the caution for persistent infringement, and I've cautioned players for persistent infringement for their 2nd foul in a number of occasions. Especially when the 2nd foul is a borderline caution by itself, the fact that the player has committed an earlier foul (or is known for this particular tactic) will often be sufficient to tip the scales towards a caution.

How about you use your skill to send an early message to your opponents, instead of dirty and unsporting tactics?

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Erik, perhaps you have come across the FIFA 'Fair Play' slogan. Let me explain. This expression says very briefly that you should play the game fairly. It also hints that the more skillful team triumphs. Your question seems to ask: how can I best circumvent the laws or let me know how much cheating I can get away with.
Referees are taught to caution a player, who in a fairly quick succession commit multiple fouls. I fail to see what game you are playing if you think it is macho or clever or that it even benefits your team to give away a free kick just to test the referee. Thank God most people do not think like you!
Players like you fairly quickly get a name and fouls will be called on you based on your reputation. You will earn your yellow card sooner than a normal player, who commits a foul simply because he is playing the game hard.
I suggest that you travel a lot so your reputation does not get established in any one neighborhood.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Persistent means that something persists, keeps on happening. That means more than once. How many more than one is up to the referee that day. 'Do ya feel lucky, punk, huh, do ya?'

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Ah yes. The infamous 'Honey, I'm home!!' foul - the 'Let's get inside their head so they can't focus' foul. Ahhhh, 'tis a manly sport don't ye think?? That kind of macho crap is what takes away from the enjoyment of soccer and creates a chop-fest on the field which nobody wants to watch. Hell, just check out the MLS especially in its early years. How many of those games are/were TRULY enjoyable to watch? What you describe is not so much a matter of 'persistent' but 'obnoxious' and cheap. As stated, persistent is whatever the ref wants to call it that day. For me, the FIRST 'send a message foul' is booked. THAT is persistent enough for me on one of those. Then it becomes MY MESSAGE that you players better receive because the next one just might be SFP or VC and a direct red because it's a matter of 'in the opinion of the referee'. Sound a little over the top? Well, for cheap crap like that it is deserved - in my opinion.

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

Intimidation tactics are the stuff of goons and thugs. It is also what makes being a referee so damned hard of a job, having to deal with your type that is.

Did you ever stop to think that this is another person you're endangering just to 'get in their head' all in the name of winning? Maybe you would have liked that guy off the pitch, you might even like to have had a beer together.

But now, that guy will remember you as the asshole who kicked the crap out of him for no apparent reason that left him with a painful bruise for a couple weeks.

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