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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33918

Mechanics 3/10/2020

RE: Other

Sal of CHICAGO, IL USA asks...

The following situation fluctuates between a yellow card and a stern talk or a red card depending on which ref you ask, therefore I'm curious about how you guys would handle the following situation: Two players one RED, one YELLOW get into a melee where they have to be separated by others. There were no punches thrown, no bad words said, no pushing, just 2 guys trying to get to each other in an overly aggressive manner. Is a YC and a talk enough to sell it as USB or has this situation overstepped into the violent conduct zone and be deserving of red cards?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sal
No two situations are the same and the referee has to make a call on what he believes is the *best* call in that particular game.
I have been involved in many of these situations and I have gone with no cards, yellow cards and red cards.
I recall an incident in a Cup Final where two players caused a mass confrontation. One was already on a caution and my sense was his opponents tried to start a situation where both would get cautioned. No punches were thrown yet the behaviour was overly aggressive and in my opinion excessive force was used with jerseys ripped, neck grabs etc. I straight red carded both.
In other games I have gone with cautions where I felt that it was an aggressive squaring up and perhaps a once off situation in a game due to an incident. It was in my opinion likely to flare up again so the threat of a second caution was going to help keep it under control.
I have also on an odd occasions went with a stern talking to and on one occasion I recall minutes later both players were joking with each other. I probably had a knowledge of the players and whether they were likely to respond to a talking to or if more sanction was required.
The flip side of that is that from experience I know that certain players do not respond to anything other than cards and a stern talking to along the line * If you do not want to continue playing then do not be surprised if another card comes out* *We are here to play soccer. If you persist with that behaviour do not expect to stay on the field of play* does not work.
Match control is at stake and it is vital that the referee makes a decision that fits that circumstances and deals with what can be a *moment of truth* in the game. That moment can define the game in terms of control.
Experience helps the referee to know what option to use and there is no fixed formula that can be followed.
In your example if I do not know the players then it is likely a caution for both with zero tolerance from there on. The genesis of the situation has a bearing for me on the sanction.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Sal,
cards are tools !
You use them to set an example or perform a task.
You might even verbally warn without any card .
That is an option.
IF that option feels light, the yellow card caution can certainly be justified but a red card direct send off seems to overly harsh unless historically throughout the match these guys were constantly at it.
I mean you look at specific scenarios in the totality of the match Ar we 5 minutes in, 10, midway, last 5 minutes? Is the game clean till that point ? Was it a last nail in the coffin after repeated warnings? . Cheers

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