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Question Number: 30512

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/14/2016

RE: High School

sam of new york, ny usa asks...

What is the correct protocol for sending off a player? By protocol, I mean what should you say or motion to a player that you are sending off? Sometimes I see the referee put up the red card then point to the sidelines, but should you verbalize anything to the player? The reason you are sending them off? Just saying 'leave the field'? I never know what to say in this situation because I have never done a send off, but with cautions I will simply put up the card or say 'that's enough' and put the card up for PI

And at the same time, what do you do with a coach you send off? You have the ask, tell, remove procedure 'coach im asking you to stop, coach, stop, coach please leave' but do you just as well point off the field to them? How do you get them to leave if they aren't, threaten with abandonment of the game (coach if you do not leave the field i will end the game right now)?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sam
Each situation will be different. Many times holding up the red card and pointing to the touchline is sufficient. In fact it can be wise as the player may be incensed at that time and the last place that a referee needs to be is close to the player, engaged in conversation. The referee may have to explain his decision to team mates as they may be questioning the decision. In other occasions a word with the player can be helpful. I have sent off players for deliberately handling on the goal line and I have spoken to them telling them that the rules require that they are ejected from the game. The best advice in most instances is to engage little at that time and simply signal the decision with a raised red card.
In respect of a coach the approach you mention is helpful again depending on the circumstances. The coach in A NFHS game is shown the red card and the referee can point to the changing rooms. With coaches I believe that it is best to speak as well at that tine by informing them of the decision. I would say something like Coach I asked you to desist from behaving in an irresponsible manner. I am now asking you to leave the field of play and as it is a HS game the red card is shown.
Final points I would make is that the process can reflect the referees personality and the referee has to be comfortable with same. Also in some areas the referee is required to take the name and that can be a conversation of sorts as the player will no doubt be pleading his case for no sanction.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Please remember that the high school game is an extension of the classroom and is to be a learning experience for players. The NFHS rules require that you hold the red card above your head and indicate the player being carded and then notify both coaches, the scorer and the other officials of the nature of the misconduct. It is helpful if you do let the player know why he/she is being disqualified but that is not necessary under the rules as the educating at this time is to be done by the coaches who are made aware of the reason for the card. By the way, the NFHS rules do not require you to physically go to each coach and the scorer. You can do the informing from a reporting area located on the halfway line approximately 15 yards from the officials area. I hope that you will have a very successful high school season this fall

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


Let's go back to the time when the red and yellow cards were introduced in the game. Ken Aston is credited with the original idea. They were used first in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. Why did Ken Aston introduce this procedure?
Before the cards, players were simply told that they are cautioned or ejected and no cards were used. Well, this was a big problem for the manager because he was not informed what happened on the field. In fact, in the case of a caution, he really had no idea that one of his players was walking a tight rope in that one more caution and he is ejected and the teamplays short.
The cards solved this dilemma. It also solved the problem of immediately informing the TV audience of what happened. A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card but the card is not for the player; he already knows he was cautioned. It is for the coach, TV cameras, spectators and whoever wants to know what happened during that little talk with the ref.
Having this knowledge, the manager can quickly make decisions how to proceed.
Notice I said he is cautioned and shown the card, in that order. First, you tell the player what's up and then you tell the rest of the world about it by showing the card. Most referees dispense with telling the players why they were cautioned because most of the time it is quite obvious but really it would not hurt if you would say 'dissent' or 'unsporting'. Learn the different cautions and say an abbreviated version to the player, then show the card.
If you are arrested for something, the first thing you might ask: what is the charge or why are you arresting me? You have a right to know. Same with a player.
In the case of case of a red card, I would say, 'violent conduct' or 'denying a goal' or 'serious foul play' please leave he field and then show the red card; again, not so much for the player but for the spectators, who may not be aware of what the ref said to the player until he leaves the field.
It is in fact important that the player knows what he is sent off for because different send offs have different punishments. A DOGSO may be a game suspension but violent conduct may carry a much more severe punishment, including legal ramifications.
As far as coaches are concerned, no cards are used. What I do is ask him to come on field to talk to me.(just a few yards, but on the field 'my home' and not his coaching area, which is his home...) then say to him leave the field, well away from the bench and I give you one minute to do so. The coach will continue to express his anger but after half a minute especially when you have walked away from him, he should quieten down. At the end of that time, again signal for him to leave. If he does not, simply inform the captains that you are forced to abandon the game.
Try to be calm, do not raise your voice, don't get agitated - all very hard to do.
Good luck!

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