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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 32903

Law 18 - Common Sense 11/29/2018

RE: Rec Adult

Andrei of LA, USA asks...

What does it mean when a player says 'Me' during the field?

Does it mean the same thing as 'leave it' or 'mine', as in, let the ball go and leave it to me?

Or can it mean something else, such as 'I'm defending him' / 'I got him'.

There was an incident during a game where a team mate passed the ball to another team mate, while someone from the other team who was right behind the receiver shouted 'Me'. Was he trying to trick the player into leaving the ball so he gets it instead, or was he simply telling his team mates that he's going after the ball?

This incident led to an argument, with the player who shouted 'Me', saying that 'Me' does not mean the same thing as 'Mine' or 'Leave'.

Is the use of 'Me' common, and if yes, what does it mean?

Thank you!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andrei
Communication between players is part of the game and it is not an offence.
It is only an offence when it is done for unsporting reasons. The test is whether the call deserves to be cautioned. If there is no caution there cannot be an IDFK.
So shouting ME or whatever is not in itself an offence yet rather the intention behind doing so.
Let me pose the proposition that the player is called Mee or whatever name. We hear the phrase put a name on it which is to ensure that an offence cannot be considered.
So in your situation it is difficult to determine if the shout was made for unsporting reasons or to tell teammates that the player was going to deal with it.
In the absence of any degree of certainty I would say no offence and play on.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Andrei,
Thanks for asking about this. Shouting 'mine' or 'leave it' isn't a problem. Despite what many people think, there's no rule that you have to put a name to the ball. It is not a free kick for shouting 'mine' or 'leave it' or anything else like that - 'me' would fall into that category, even if that call doesn't quite make sense!

So, no offence committed by any of that.

Unless the referee believes it's done as a deliberate attempt to distract/deceive an opponent, in which case it's an indirect free kick and a yellow card.

Standing behind an opponent and calling 'mine' or something like that when you can't possibly get the ball could be seen as an attempt to trick the opponent - although if it's unsuccessful, the ref will probably let it slide anyway

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Andrei,
I have never hear of just the word ME) as a communication axiom or as a upsetting utterance to the opposition? I have heard "Pass it to me, I am open??? I have heard Arrrgh to scare or even a cupped hands like a mega phone with the player screaming his own name into the ear of an opponent about 6 inches away? Both cautioned, shown a yellow card with with an INDFK awarded. I have even had fans, parents & coaches screaming along touchlines, so loud & voracious that their frightening antics stopped u 12 girls in their tracks from playing a contestable ball.
Its your call to decide if the Me utterances are impacting the match or not? Did it affect what the opposition was doing? I do recall an EPL referee Jeff Winters used to ignore the stated LOTG and offer a INDFK only with no caution claiming the game did not need a card here! I tended to agree but pointed out given how the LOTG read there is no verbal impeding rule only verbal USB which calls for a card.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Andrei,
I have no idea what the player saying 'me' meant and in my experience it is not commonly used on the football field - in over 55 years of involvement with the game (I started playing when I was a young child at school) I cannot recall having heard a player say this.

However it doesn't really matter what it means, it only matters what effect it had on an opponent. If the referee judges that it distracted an opponent, it is an offence. If it was not used to verbally distract an opponent, it is not an offence.

Your question, and the protestations of the player that it doesn't mean the same as 'mine' or 'leave it' seems to be based on the assumption that if it did mean the same as either of those utterances, it would be prohibited - this is not the case. Even if the player had said 'mine' or 'leave it,' it would not necessarily be an offence. There are no specific words or phrases that are prohibited in this regard, it's only a question of whether it constitutes a verbal distraction or not.

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