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Question Number: 33892

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/20/2020

RE: Rec Adult

Charis Mpoumpous of Athens, Attica Greece asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33888

Dear '',

The answers to post 33888 were brought to my attention. I have read all your replies and justifications for your replies.
Please bear with me.

It looks to me (with all due respect), that the reasons you state it was not a penalty (or it was not a clear penalty) are just to support the referee's decision, and not your real opinions.
I have seen this kind of solidarity among referees.

IMHO, it is clear from the various angles, that the player in black and white (Shakhov) starts the play by pulling the right arm of the player in yellow-black. They even proceed a few steps like this. Seeing that he cannot hold back his opponent, Shakhov puts his left arm around the opponent.
Even this is not enough, so he literally performs a headlock.
In the meantime, the ball is clearly heading in their direction.
This is seen in both their faces as they are looking towards the ball, but also from other players who are mostly looking at them.

We have seen penalties been awarded, even in Champions League games, for much lesser things, like grabbing ones jersey.

Here we have a 'continuous pull', that progressively gets more intense.

I cannot believe that this headlock is not a penalty.
For your ease of review, I have put together a pdf, with all the key frames of the play, showing the above points made, are accurate.
Please kindly review the pdf, and comment on my (personal) opinion above.
Thank you in advanced for your valuable answer .

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Charis,
Echoing Ref Grove, we have no qualms with stating when we think a referee at any level has made a wrong decision based on what we can see. We try to look at it from all sides, but we certainly aren't in the business of supporting a decision just because it was made by a top tier referee.
Doing so would be going against the principles of this site as a source for referee education - supporting an incorrect decision helps nobody. Discussing a decision, correct or incorrect (or 50-50) is important.
Even when providing our answers the panel aren't always in agreement - but we would prefer to offer the range of viewpoints.
One of the things about this sport is that a lot of decisions do come down to matters of opinion and how an event is perceived.
While I take on board your comments about the holding in the lead-up, I don't believe that was sufficient for a foul - and if it wasn't for the player falling over, would you even have commented on that holding? Whether holding should be dealt with more firmly or not, in line with how it's currently refereed I don't believe that had enough impact to constitute a foul. Thus, there's minor holding not quite worth a foul, followed by what I believe to be a dive, based on the cues I commented on earlier.
The dive is my opinion on the video and some may disagree. The problem with the dive is that it remove the option for the referee to judge the severity of the contact on its own merits - so the referee is no longer able to determine if the holding actually had enough impact to warrant a foul.
So often when there's a dive, I'm left thinking that if the player had actually just played normally they would have been left with a better chance of the foul being called.
There's certainly no headlock though - the arm over the shoulder and across the chest is not a headlock.
It's the sort of incident that would be controversial no matter what the outcome - and whether or not a penalty is given here, I also expect it's debatable enough that VAR wouldn't be able to recommend a review of the decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Charis,
Thanks for the question. I don't know if you've looked at our site very often but if you have, I think you will have seen that there are plenty of occasions when one or more of us have disagreed with a referee's on-field decision.

I would also point out that in this particular case I personally was not aware, when I gave my answer, whether a penalty had been awarded or not as this was not stated in the question. So I could not have been just confirming the actual referee's decision, because I didn't know what it was - I also stated that other referee's opinions might differ from mine.

I agree with ref McHugh that holding and pulling in the penalty area is an area of concern and personally, I would like to see a firmer line taken on it in general. However possibly because of a perception of what players, managers etc involved in the game at the higher levels are prepared to tolerate, referees seem to allow a relatively large amount of such shenanigans to go unpunished.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Charis
Thank you for your observation.
I suggested that there was a possibility of a penalty and reasons why I felt it was not given
Your points are valid and ultimately it was up to the referee on the day and the VAR official to make a decision.
As I mentioned previously in my answer the blight of holding at set pieces has been omnipresent in games for a long time. I have seen these given and also not given. I can easily point to plenty of examples online of worse holding not given as penalties and yes although fewer in number I have also seen *softer* ones given.
I would point out that pulling was identified by FIFA as an offence it wanted to clamp down in the last WC. Pierluigi Collina, the head of Fifas refereeing committee, outlined that alterations had been made to the VAR system throughout the tournament after criticism about unpunished pulling which many referees had become accustomed to ignoring except only the most blatant offences.
During that WC Harry Kane appeared to be a victim of this on at least two occasions during England opener with Tunisia in Volgograd as was Aleksandar Mitrovic in Serbias costly group defeat to Switzerland. None of these obvious offences were called.
Ultimately all we give are personal opinions and thought on why a decision was made / not made. That counts for very little other than hopefully trying to inform
By the way games at this level are subject to intense scrutiny by referee observers, referee departments. If a referee has made what is seen as an obvious error he / she is marked down in the game assessment. Given the high profile of this particular game it was subject to intense scrutiny.

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