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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33609

League Specific 8/31/2019

RE: Professional

engin ataman of Olympia, WA United States asks...

I will be asking you to educate us about the differences between two decisions/tackles in two different games/situations. this one was a red card after VAR review (was initially yellow). and here this was yellow and VAR did not interfere with the decision and stayed as called on the field.

There were claims around 'twitter world' from fans that suggested these two actions are essentially identical and second one should have been red too (just FYI i disagree, i think yellow was right). I would like to get your opinion and as always it will be much appreciated. Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Engin
There is a key phrase in Law 5 which states and I quote ** Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.
So it is in the opinion of the referee. Now that opinion can be educated and informed so that most decision will be consistent yet we know that does not happen.
I watched Leicester City v Bournemouth English Premier League game yesterday and there were two similar challenges that were not carded and both were reviewed using VAR. No cards were issued of any description.
Many have come out to say how surprised they were that they were not carded not to mention possible red cards?
I guess that Brendan Rodgers coach of Leicester City summed up the thinking when he said * If you've coached the game, or managed the game or played the game at any sort of level, you know he's just trying to get his body between Callum Wilson and the ball. It's just unfortunate.**
Now like your examples this body movement of players to move their legs to shield the ball has an action with raised boots over the ball. Fine if no contract is made yet when it does it is risky. Now irrespective of the intent of the action the referee still has to consider if the action was an offence and whether it was reckless or excessive force was used.
The Laws tells us that reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned and that using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off.
In both your challenges it is certainly reckless as were the cases in the Leicester game. The way the boots make contact on the shin / ankle is acting with disregard and can also be viewed as endangering the safety of an opponent.
Now it is simple for us in a chair looking at a video yet much more difficult in a game situation.
In the EPL it looks like the use of VAR wants to be as less intrusive as it possibly can and as the referee did not see any offence or possible cards it was not deemed an obvious error by the referee. We know that video has a way of making contact look much more *dangerous* using slow motion, freeze frame etc yet it still shows that contact happened in a dangerous way.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Engin,
you must first accept that while we provide reasoning at why a decision MIGHT be arrived at we are not the match official managing the game nor can we claim we see the event in real time at field level. A referee with integrity calls what he sees when he sees it even if other see it differently.

In the first incident once you SLOW things down you can easily see an extended, locked leg studs showing well above the ankle and a follow through rake as he slides down the shin on top of the foot, pushing the ankle into a bendable position . VAR would be concerned because the angle and position are a fulcrum event for broken shin or ankle. It is likely the referee was willing to change yellow to red based on the clear evidence in slow motion that he could not fully appreciate at match speed.

The second incident is in no way as serious as the 1st , albeit I am sure it hurt. If we look at the timing and the fact the player was not attacking the ball carrier with a raised stiff leg but wound up stepping on the foot that was placed under him as he was a wee bit late arriving to play the ball. The contact was near unavoidable albeit a late contact but I saw no deliberate attempt to place heavy weight or a vicious twist that could be a catalyst for a red card. Based on the events from an arm chair perspective you and I are in total agreement . Red for one, yellow for the other was a fair outcome based on the angle of view provided

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