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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33838

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/13/2020

Eunan Mcdaid of Donegal, Non-US/Other Ireland asks...

Hi Guys, regarding the change around cards for team officials.

If during a game you hear someone say something worthy of a caution or sending off from the technical area - you go over, do you say what you heard but can't identify the person so the head coach will receive the card or do you allow them first to put the person forward even though it may not be the culprit.

Thinking of a referee without assistants to help.


Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Eunan,
Personally I think in stadiums filled with screaming fans we are rarely going to id who said what unless the 'who' decided to make sure we did!
You certainly do not want horrific blatant garbage get a free pass but unless what is being done/said is truly match affecting or so grotesque it MUST be dealt with (personal attack against officials race baiting or chanting etc...or is spitefullest, literally a hush goes over the crowd before they commence screaming their own versions. WE should selectively ignore useless input. The LOTG do make it clear you can sanction the Coach but try to work with the coach first if possible to quell garbage rather than seek to blame! Your tolerance and attitude reflect your character. Your match Your decision Your reputation !

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eunan
Thanks for the question
It is left to individual referees to decide how best to handle such situations.
I personally feel that *justice* is best delivered in a way where the offender is identified by the referee rather than being 'offered up' by the team or the manager taking the rap.
As Referee Grove points out the team can have an ulterior motive in naming an offender and also if it goes to discipline the manager will say that he did not say anything which very well may be the case.
I have seen some clubs position *spectators* beside / behind the technical area to berate the match official so that the words do not come from within the technical area yet very much orchestrated by the team. Hard to prove and also does the manager take a card for spectator shouting?
Sometimes we have to have a stepped approach to this which is to first place the responsibility on the manager of managing the technical area by telling him that he is in charge of the bench personnel and if the problem persists that action will be taken including against him should the referee have to return. Sometimes in these situations the *offender* will continue with words in the presence of the referee which very well may identify the culprit who used the words.
Also by paying a bit more attention to the technical area the *offender* can be quite animated by movement, gestures etc and he can be identified. Other times we may just have to accept some level of verbals which when it is seen to not having any affect on the referee or the game can just be *noise* with limited consequences for the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eunan,
The law simply says that:

''Where an offence is committed and the offender cannot be identified, the senior team coach present in the technical area will receive the sanction.''

There is no specific guidance on how the offender is to be identified, so that leaves the mechanics up to the referee. For me, this would be a referee's judgement call as to whether to accept information from those in the technical area as to who the offender was. You should bear in mind that the team officials might have an ulterior motive in designating a specific individual - they might be trying to shield the actual culprit, for instance if that person had previously been sanctioned (either in this game or a previous one) and where a repeat offence might lead to a more severe sanction.

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