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Question Number: 32711

Character, Attitude and Control 9/15/2018

RE: Under 17

steve of Oakland, CA usa asks...

What should an AR or center ref do if they need to choose between preventing a confrontation vs. following play?

Just finished a game a few hours ago as center, ball was back up by midfield and suddenly a forward and keeper got into a pushing and yelling match behind me. I immediately stopped play not even looking to see who had possession, if there was a breakaway, etc, in order to sprint over there and get between the players before punches were thrown and my AR was also running into the melee.

Also had this happen to me as an AR a while ago on my sideline but on the other half of the field, one player got in another's face and the other started throwing punches and I immediately abandoned play to run up the sideline to the confrontation yelling the ref's name and getting between the players, telling the ref what happened.

Should a CR keep up with play and yell for the AR on that side to handle a confrontation? Should an AR not get involved in a situation at all unless it's right in front of them? Or does prevention of confrontation trump all else?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
Confrontation? How serious, if VC you act immediately if they are jawing , as AR, let those involved you are watching . You might get involved in youth but be careful, we generally are not like a prize fighter referees breaking up clinches. You can stop and stay with it if say blue guy is on green & green is about to score UNLESS the serious nature of what is in front of you can not be ignored, then flag & a yell to the CR given rec rarely has radio if it goes south.

As CR there is a reason we shoulder check when we feel the tension our spidery senses tingling of an incident of note, play continues, two players jawing, you FEEL the potential BUT nothing has yet occurred and play is moving away. You can HOPE or signal the AR to watch these guys . I am not big on the drop ball lets warn generally one or the other will start something as a reason but a warning to both that, knock it off guys, as you move away, is not without merit.
The other AR mirrors the flag but as to what type of confrontation you need to discuss pregame what duties or positions to take in a conflict. People often compare referees to a police officer on the pitch but we are more watch and record then bouncers breaking it up or NHL referees on ice. IF you have a 4th he tries to keep the technical areas from exploding. The two ARs have you back, but none of you should physically engage anyone except to defend themselves. Putting you hands on a player while I have seen Collina and few get away with it is not recommended. After hitting the whistle a hard as I ever have blown,
I have bear hugged a player that I was red carding for a horrible tackle where he broke an ankle of an opponent and got him away from a situation that I knew was going to be a huge deal and literally almost threw him into the visitors change room at warp speed instructing the security to ensure he stayed there. I had called for 911 as the ambulance was required. I believed with every fibre of my being we were going to war if I did not get him gone ASAP. Yet in other situations where ugly tackles were in evidence to cause confrontation I simply stood by and recorded? Was I right really never came into it as I acted on instinct. I actually disagree that violent confrontations are differently treated at any level as VC is VC. Injuries through woman soccer are primarily knee injuries they are more susceptible to ACL tears then to rampart unsafe play . No one at any level of soccer recommends ignoring the safety or welfare of the players to play advantage you evaluate the situation use your voice to distract or let them know you are watching but once fists start flying or kicks start being delivered you are looking to close things down ASAP be you AR or CR. You back one another up, stay on the fringe looking in,record and monitor the action's of those involved, then in it goes to a match report as cards, expulsions or abandonment with the league to detail the extra fines disqualifications or punishments per their bylaws. .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
As a general rule assistant referees should not enter the field of play unless instructed in the pre match to assist in a mass confrontation. There are set protocols for such situations which as a general principle is to be close to the referee and to observe from a number of angles what is going on.
In your first example my advice would be to stop play immediately . Advantage should not be played on violent conduct so play must be stopped.
As a general rule a referee might try to prevent VC kicking off by placing himself between players or trying to isolate the target of the VC. He should be physical with players. If the incident is very close to the sideline the AR might also try to position himself between players and to use his voice to instruct players to move away or desist. Match officials should not get involved physically with players that are fighting for personal safety reasons plus much can be happening behind the officials back during that time. Players can also rake exception to any physical contact including from match officials. VC on a match official carries probably a minimum of a year suspension so it is a very serious offence. Loud use of the whistle and speaking to the pkayers can also help in these situations. Allow others to intervene to pull players apart and then take disciplinary action against those that have been observed.
Now some referees are large in stature and their background may be in law enforcement, military etc. I have seen such officials intervene physically with players on TV yet they have perhaps three other official plus video to capture what has happened. It us not a good idea nor is it advised.
If I am an AR and I see violent conduct my first reaction is to attract the referees attention to the incident. As I said earlier I would not be getting involved physically unless the referee was himself under threat of VC. I would position myself so as to observe clearly what is going on and to make a note of player numbers etc that will be sanctioned. I would not get involved in any mellee or fighting and allow others to deal with it.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

If this was a high school game, you would stop play no matter the position of the ball as safety of players is of primary importance in high school play. The ARs should stay in place and keep bench personnel off the field and observe; they may use their voices to assist. The ARs are to observe what is happening and record the numbers of the participants and any bench personnel leaving the team area to participate. You may use your whistle and voice to stop the confrontation, but do not touch a player or get in a position where you may be accidently hit by a player. Touching a player in high school play could result in a lawsuit.You may also ask coaches to enter the field and assist in stopping the confrontation.

After the confrontation consult with the ARs to determine exactly what happened, who was responsible and who became involved. Appropriate cards would then be given. Throwing a punch or leaving the team area to assist in a fight (except for a coach called by the referee) result in disqualifications.

Because misconduct occurred, play would be restarted from the point of the infraction. The restart would either be a direct kick (possibly penalty kick) if a player from one team caused the infraction or a drop ball if players from opposing teams were equally responsible.

Please remember, that these are the procedures for high school games.

Also, remember that in high school games, safety is the top priority. After working non-high school games, officials sometimes have a tendency to allow more situations that result in injuries or injured players not taken care of immediately because of ball position. Perhaps, this is one reason that high school girls soccer is the second most dangerous of any high school sport. Only high school football has a greater percentage of injuries.

I hope that you have a very successful fall season.

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