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Question Number: 34017

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/7/2020

RE: Adult

Russell Roxburgh of Sydney, New South Wales Australia asks...

HI guys, just a follow up on a ruling I made that I keep thinking over. Adult, district football, an attacker had run for a through pass which the keeper controlled, picked up. The attacker stood right up in the keepers face, with some stuff to say no doubt. Then a bit of push at the keeper.
So at this point, I could have intervened (YC & stuff...) but the keeper rolled the ball off to a defender to play up the pitch, which ended with the ball well into their attacking half. SO sorted? No.
Whatever was said, must have bugged the keeper, who has grabbed the attackers shirt, both hands, and pushed him off balance to the ground in PA. OK. Not good.
So blow whistle, stop play. Now I'm thinking I've allowed play to run after the initial 'foul', so this is a new incident. A new foul. So PK. The keeper had his chance, played the ball, it moved into an attacking space, then bingo.
So YC for keeper for reckless foul, plus another YC for good measure to smart attacker. PK stands. Keepers team V cranky. I reminded them, you had the advantage, and then this.
PK => goal.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Hindsight is 20 / 20 vision and we all wish we could roll the clock back to deal with situations before they escalated or taken the appropriate disciplinary action in a timely manner.
I am not sure if you saw the Martial / Lamela incident in the Man Utd v Spurs game. What started out as pushing ended up with Lamela straight arming Martial in the upper shoulder and Martial responded with a slap to Lamela in the face. Cue red card for Martial and caution for Lamela. Some of these we have seen over the years ended up with a talking to. Could Referee Taylor have dealt with it any differently. Probably not as he did not expect it to end up as it did. What he found out after the event would have told him to intervene instantly yet that never happens. Player have to be responsible for their actions and that they might not like the consequences.
As described I would say that you had no choice on the way the play evolved. You played an "advantage" of sorts with play continuing and then the goalkeeper reacts in a way that had to be called as a foul.
I assume the attacker was unsporting in his actions by acting in an aggressive manner so cautions for both and and as play was stopped to deal with the second offence it was a penalty kick. Your comment to the defending team was spot on in that they had the ball, they wanted to get on with play which was allowed and then the GK decides to commit USB. Lucky it was not VC and a red card.
Over the years I can safely say that such situations involving goalkeepers are always best dealt with immediately. Playing advantage in the defensive third is never a good idea as the ball can be lost plus incidents like this have the propensity to kick off into something more.
You probably wished you had stepped in at the first incident and awarded the free kick to the defending team and taken whatever disciplinary action that was merited at that time. That did not happen so in my opinion you had little choice.
Now I know some "old hands" who may have decided that the punishment did not fit the crime in that kt was the attacker who caused the situation in which case they may opine that as "advantage" did not accrue within a few seconds that play could be stopped to deal with the original offence. That is a huge stretch yet they could "make it fit" the Laws. Those refs would no doubt tell the attacking team that their attacker created the first foul which is foul that is being punished.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russell,
intervention by a referee is NOT always confined to blowing the whistle to STOP play. We manage a match not only via application of the LOTG but by our understanding of the game itself. Recognizing players do not SEE the game as we do. Our presence, staying close to play , good foul recognition, body language, verbal interaction, eye contact all of which COMMUNICATE our OWN reactions to what is transpiring as much as reassuring those who feel persecuted, that YOU SAW~ YOU are AWARE and they are on your radar. If you noticed a flash point! Your ARs should also NOTICE the interactions & can keep their eyes open You need to concentrate on active play but a peripheral or shoulder back check will often catch further activities.

Players who feel slighted, cheated or unfairly challenged can be reassured via the referee being proactive when obvious conflict is being initiated. The proximity of presence, defining body language of warning or disapproval, using a simple stare or a concise clear verbal comment! Is there a problem gentlemen? Back off! Move along! I am right here! I do not recommend a referee micro manage players but to occasionally step up and apply the brakes before the train develops a full head of steam is not without precedent.

It does not ALWAYS translate into players being ok with what is being allowed, whether it be an advantage, trifling or doubtful incident. The balance of fair versus foul, what a referee can accept within the LOTG and what players tolerate as fair or foul conduct . The phrase, "Your match Your decision Your reputation!" is based on this premise

My colleagues Ref McHugh & Ref Wright have several very good points,
(1)advantage on the defending third is usually a BAD idea, unless it bore an immediate attack by a super long clearance where a striker would CLEARLY benefit of a strike at goal or a great attacking rush.
(2) Opposing keeper contact or intimidation by an attacker is ALWAYS a boil point and can easily escalate into a CMI (critical match incident) so easily in most any match thus deal with it in a way it leaves no room for interpretation.
(3) advantage can be delayed and silent, but I suggest IF advantage is being applied in any area but the PA, it be verbally mentioned and arm signaled. That way IF retaliation is an issue its more of a bad choice than an instinctive reaction to something the referee .
(4) Cards are a tool to be used, but be wary of over use for speculative decisions when there is no clear or substantial need.
(5) Once you permit play to continue , be it as you ignored a reason to stop play earlier or even failed to comment about it, you can only react to the next incident Just ask Zidan in in 2006. With the match tied up 1-1 with 10 minutes remaining in extra-time, the French captain was red carded after he head-butted Materazzi in the chest, reacting to a particular shady comment .Italy defender Marco Materazzi was marking Zidane closely constantly fouling, clutching and grabbing his jersey. In a terse exchange between them Zidane said, "Stop pulling my shirt I will give you my jersey after the game" since the defender was constantly grabbing it. To which Materazzi replied, several times He rather - blank -his sister/mother/wife (no one is sure exactly what or who as both dispute the actual content) than have his shirt. Zidane reacted . Referee had ZERO choice!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,

It's great to see you looking at how an incident may have been affected by earlier actions and responses.
So, a keeper has the ball, attacker ran up to eyeball the keeper and presumably say something - it seems that you're not sure if anything was said at all, and if it was you certainly don't know what it was. So, all you know is the attacker stood in front of the keeper.

First consideration - was this a clearly unnecessary event of running up to the keeper, or was it a completely normal and reasonably aspect of chasing a ball he had every right to chase and that's where he ended up? If the latter...well, he isn't obligated to move out of the keeper's way. If the former, then alarm bells. It's not enough to stop play - he hasn't prevented the keeper from releasing the ball, and there's certainly no caution here. If you knew what was said that may warrant a card, but as you don't you can only react to what you see.

Players get a bit upset at attackers getting in their keeper's face, so it tends to cause a bit of agitation - usually a loud 'leave the keeper alone!' is all that's needed to manage it. For a repeat, pull them aside at the next stoppage. That simple verbalisation lets players know you've seen it, you'll watch it, but the keeper can keep playing the ball.

You said there was a push - was it just a minor arm up, 'get out of my way' sort of thing? If so, you could be justified in allowing things to continue. I'd probably shout something along the lines of "BACK AWAY!! Keeper, you have the ball, let's play!, Six, leave the keeper alone!" - possibly even running in closer. If the push is escalating to a foul, you have to award a penalty - but it sounds minor enough to manage verbally.

At this point you needed to demonstrate a response - but verbally without stopping play is a valid response.

Now, you have this red flag. You now know to keep a very close eye on those two. If the keeper had released the ball, you need to keep these 2 in your peripheral view until you know they've separated. Run wider if you have to. If you see them still squaring up, shout at them. You could even stop play (restart as per occurring. I don't think I've done it this way before - usually the push comes too quickly, but it's possible.

Tip for the Assistants - if you're AR or 4th and you see something like this, it is your responsibility to monitor this as the referee needs to move up with play (this will probably be the near AR as the far AR is watching the offside line on the counter).

So, with the end outcome, a penalty was your only decision - but I don't understand the card for the attacker.

As you said, you don't know what was said, not even sure if anything was said. You can't book somebody for what probably happened - you need to be sure. So, with that, all you saw the attacker do is stand in front of the keeper.

That isn't a card. Don't fall into the trap of booking the victim just to shut the players up or because they must have deserved it. Deal with what you see. Additionally, you had already decided the attacker's actions weren't worthy of a card otherwise you would have stopped play then and there (even though the keeper's release is better than a FK, for an offence against the keeper needing a card, you'll want to stop play). Don't fall into the trap of changing that decision based on the actions of his opponent. You've let the keeper decide the attacker gets a card. Changing a decision like that is not a habit you want to get into.

Similiarly, I'm unclear on what 'advantage' you're refereeing to. There was no initial foul by the attacker here - unless you want to say he blocked the keeper's release, but that's a stretch especially for a first time offence.

In summary, the PK was the perfect decision but I can't see any reason for the card for the attacker - and verbal intervention at the first incident may have been sufficient to prevent the second.

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