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Question Number: 33505

Mechanics 7/7/2019

RE: Professional

Fidel Jaary of Auckland, Auckland New Zealand asks...

Hi Sir,

i was doing U19 game between two competitive teams, during the game the goalkeeper of one team kept saying to me that the striker of the other team uses or swore at him, i was adamant that i didn't hear a thing, he GK kept telling me why don't you ask him what he said, i repeatedly answered i can only act on what i hear and see.

My question is can you as a referee take the GK word for granted and caution the striker, or can you ask the striker to come honest and say to you what he had said to the GK.

How do you manage this situation and how far can you go with this, and do you have the authority to caution the striker based on what the GK had said.



Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Fidel
A referee can only act based on what he sees or hears or on the advice of a neutral assistant.
In this instance you did not hear what was said so no action can or should be taken. No player is going to *own up* to misconduct so asking the player what he said is futile. Plus a referee cannot act on the word of a player. If the player said something racist or offensive insulting which is a red card the report would have to truthfully state what the referee heard not a player. Same would apply to a caution which could eventually result in a red card for a second yellow. What does the referee write in his report? That a player told him what was said!
Now to manage the situation my advice is perhaps to have a quiet word with the goalkeeper and tell him that you heard nothing yet you will keep a close eye on the situation from now on.
I would take the attacker aside also for a quiet word and tell him that you did not hear anything yet if you did that you would be taking disciplinary action. I would also tell him that I will be paying particular attention to behavior from that moment onwards. It may mean being close to them when they are in close proximity to each other.
It is not cast in stone how it should be dealt with and each situation will be different.
In a game at the weekend an underage player complained to me with the opponent beside him that the opponent was making stupid sounds to annoy / distract him which the opponent immediately denied. This all happened with play continuing and I just said to both * I heard nothing* and that was the end of it.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Fidel Jaary,
interesting that at that age the keeper felt upset enough to get your attention?
It is unfortunate that people will say and do what they think can get another off their game. Look at the WC final where the Italian defender managed to get Zidane to headbutt him in the middle of the field by saying derogatory things about his mother? The POS defender certainly did not admit to doing them during the match but the fact Zidane got sent off shows even such slimy tactics can work. It why a player will squeeze a bit of spit out of the side of his mouth when passing by an opponent to invoke a reaction.

We are not the word police what is stated to be foul is not seen as foul by everyone. Saying sh--t is not the same as doing it! It all about context and attitudes, The fact I personally as a referee could indeed take a suitable moment to say something is not a license for a keeper to continually harp about it once a referee has repeatedly answered he can only act on what he hears and sees. Each referee has there own ideas about fair play and when it is necessary to intercede. Yes it is possible the keeper might come off as whiny should the comments be benign in context as you could simply ignore the mumbling of an idiot, but if it gets into abusive racist or threatening it would not upset me as a referee to be approached such behavior was upsetting.

You can not award fouls or show cards on say so by a player, you can indeed isolate the supposed perp and say,

I understand something is going on, care to comment? How about we just play fair and stop whatever nonsense is going on? If hear or see so much as a glimmer of any abusive or racist actions or comments I will deal with it, you can also have your AR keep his eye out as well. . Now if they choose to go ballistic whilst you are in earshot you act per the misconduct or actions undertake.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Fidel,
Sounds like you actually did all the right things. You absolutely cannot book a player based on something not witnessed by yourself or your NAR. If we did, players would lie all the time - and what's to say the keeper wasn't lying?

Also, swearing at somebody isn't an automatic card either. Every country has a different tolerance on trash talk between players, but I think in most countries, the vast majority of players swearing at each other doesn't warrant any referee attention.

But, it's on your radar. However, it's not just the alleged swearing - now you know the keeper is upset with the striker and there's the possibility of some sort of retaliation occurring later. So I'd try to get a bit closer everytime those two come together - and keep more of a trailing eye on them even after the ball is released in case the keeper starts something behind play.

My approach is a little different to my esteemed colleagues - I personally wouldn't be pulling the attacker aside and having a word. I expect that if I did, he'd loudly deny it, his teammates would then be moaning about me taking action based on the keeper and probably start antagonising the keeper more - I suspect doing this risks an immediate escalation. His teammates would be accusing me of doing something purely because the opposing team told me to - and they'd be right; I really don't want that appearance on the field.

If it was something particularly serious like accusations of racism I probably would, but not over an accusation of something that I don't even know warranted referee action to begin with.

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