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Question Number: 33852

League Specific 1/25/2020

RE: Competitive Under 14

Mia vargas of Phoenix, AZ United States asks...

When my team was playing a game in a tournament and she was ahead of the defender. In an attempt to stop her from scoring a goal, the defender chasing her proceeded to push her from behind. She fell forward and fell on her arm. My father, who is a medical professional examined her. He sent her to an urgent care because her was pretty sure that she had a buckle fracture in her radius, in other words, she broke her lower arm. She is going to have to wear a hard plaster cast for 3/4 weeks and a soft cast for a few weeks after. In Arizona club soccer, can she play or practice? If so, after how long? Also, her mom happened to be videotaping her at the time, and it is clear that the defender purposely extended her arm and she fell. Is there anything she should do with the footage? Thanks in advance, I just want to help my best friend!

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

I am sorry to hear about your friend. Unfortunately, injuries do happen in soccer. In fact, in high school competition, girls soccer is the second most dangerous sport (injuries occurring) after boys football which is the most dangerous.

If your friend was involved in high school soccer competition, she could play with the hard cast on her arm if it is padded with a closed-cell, slow-recovery foam padding no less than 1/2 inch thick. Having this padding was deemed safe for the injured player and opponents by the Medical Advisory Committee of the NFHS.

I have seen numerous instances where players with the padded hard casts have played and no problems resulted.

Perhaps, having this safe padding and providing the explanation that this would be legal in high school play, will convince the referee to allow her to play.

I hope that she is able to play

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mia
Unfortunately injuries happen in soccer. Many are the result of falling, twisting or taking a knock such as ankle sprains, knees twists, or an accidental kick, getting trod on etc. I witnessed a young player a few seasons ago falling while running and I was surprised to learn he broke his collar bone in the fall.
In addition many fouls happen due to a trip, push etc and there in no malice intended by the opponent and no action would be taken by the referee. In this case it was no doubt a push yet not a sending off offençe of using excessive force. At worst it might be a yellow card for unsporting behaviour which in underage has limited consequences if any after the tournament has been completed. Most times the player gets up uninjured and it may not even be a yellow card.
No league is, in my opinion, going to take retrospective action on a video of a push even if it was deliberate. The premise is that there is a generally accepted view that referees must be allowed to officiate a game freely without any interference. In other words, referees must have a field of autonomy within which they must be free to err as human beings, subject only to any corrective mechanisms under the Rules of Competition. This position is consistently recognised as the field of play doctrine. If the referee decides it is a yellow card or no card that is the end of the matter
At higher levels of the game some ROCs allow for retrospective action to be taken on unseen action such violent conduct through video evidence. I doubt any Underage ROCs is going to have retrospective action taken on video evidence where it was seen by a referee during the game and action taken.
As to playing with a hard cast that is not possible even if it was covered. Training is a matter for the club and of no concern to the League or a referee. As my colleagues point out the cast is to assist with healing and to immobilize the wrist. Playing or training while in a cast runs a high risk of further injury.
I wish the young player a speedy recovery and those weeks will pass quickly

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mia,
Typically any sort of hard cast isn't permitted on the field as it could be considered dangerous. Even with a lot of padding, it becomes this rigid, bulky, heavy addition to the arm which can be problematic.

Echoing Ref Grove's sentiments - if the injury is still present enough to require protection of a cast, then it needs to be considered what would happen if she fell on the arm again - or even has somebody crash into her. Remember, these are likely to occur given it's a contact sport.

Typically competitions won't take action on players based on spectator evidence - the referee made their decision on the day and there's typically no scope for a suspension to be issued even if the referee incorrectly didn't send a player off. By your description, the only potential red card offence would be Denying an Obvious GoalScoring Opportunity, which depends on the attacking situation. Sometimes a fairly minor foul can simply have an unfortunate outcome; in all honesty, most broken bones I've seen on the field have come from fair tackles where one player's leg simply gave way, or a fair charge where one player fell awkwardly. Typically pushing somebody from behind wouldn't warrant a red card and the unfortunate outcome doesn't change that.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mia,
Sorry to hear about your friend's injury. The question of whether she can play in games would be up to the referee in any game she wished to participate in. The law says that a player may not wear anything that is dangerous so with just a hard cast, she would almost certainly not be allowed to play, although a light cast with a certain amount of padding might be allowed in some cases. With a soft cast, it becomes more likely that a referee might not consider it to be dangerous - but it's still not 100% guaranteed.

As for practicing, since this is not a situation controlled by a referee, it would be up to her coaches and/or her parents, whether to allow her to practice.

For myself, I think that a player with a hand or arm injury that requires a cast is better off not playing until the injury is completely healed, the cast removed and a doctor has given them the go-ahead to play again. There is a danger that the player might re-injure themselves by returning to play too early. For instance, my daughter once injured her thumb, which required a light wrist cast to protect her while the injury healed. We did not allow her to play or practice until some time after the cast had been removed and the doctor said her muscles and tendons had recovered and strengthened enough for it to be safe for her to start playing again.

I just don't think it's wise to rush a player back into action before they're ready - at any level of play. There will be plenty of games your friend can take part in once she's fully recovered from her injury and it's safe for her to do so. I personally would not recommend that she play while she is still wearing a cast although she should also be guided by a competent medical opinion. Of course, even if a doctor did say it would be OK for her to play, that still doesn't mean a referee would allow it.

As for the video, unfortunately, unless this is a competition that allows for retrospective action based on spectator videos - which I suspect is highly unlikely, I don't think there's much that can be done based on your friend's Mom's footage of the incident.

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