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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30827

Law 1- The Field 9/27/2016

RE: travel Under 13

Sal Costa of Bayport, NY United States asks...

If a player deliberately removes the corner flag from the ground to take the kick, can the ref give him a yellow card.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sal
There is no need for a card at under 13 as chances are the player does not know. The referee stops play and requests that the flag is replaced before the kick. He then advises the player that it not allowed under the laws
Now depending on how the player reacts to that the referee may have to take disciplinary action say if the request was dissented.
At older levels it can be a caution although I have never encountered it. I have seen problems with damaged flags lying awkwardly in the way of players who try to fix the problem. Such a problem can be headed off during the pitch inspection.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Sal,

Unsporting Behaviour is the caution offence that is most commonly used for a range of incidents. The LOTG don't attempt to specify every potential application, but leave a fair bit of discretion for referees to apply the laws as they see fit - to put it another way, if something is not specifically mentioned as a cautionable offence, the referee may still apply a caution by recognising that it is grossly against the spirit of the game.

I would argue that tampering with essential field equipment definitely falls into that category and a caution can be well justified.
Look at it this way - corner flags are required by the LOTG. So the referee must delay the corner kick to have the flag replaced. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes it isn't. But the player has delayed the restart not only by removing it, but int he time it takes to replace it - coupled with the sheer unsporting act of removing the field equipment to start with.

So personally, I would be arguing very strongly for a card. However, the age is one factor to consider - and I could accept the referee choosing to take the young age into consideration and simply give the player a stern lecture. After all, we are talking about discretionary cards here, so either option is acceptable. At an older game or adults, I'd be hard pressed to justify anything less than a caution.

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