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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34023

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/13/2020

RE: Rec Under 15

Trent Futrell of Knoxville, Tennessee United States asks...

Was reffing a U14 girls game that was getting aggressive. At one point, two players (one from each team) started pushing each other. I blew the whistle and stopped play. Since it was on both teams, my solution was to talk to both players to calm down and do a drop ball as a restart. Was this the right call?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Trent
At one time this was the accepted restart yet the Laws now state that the referee punishes the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time.
The law makers are of the opinion that offences are rarely simultaneous in that one happens first. That is the offence that should be punished. When that cannot be determined the more serious offence is punished.
Many times the referee has to either decide to allow play to continue until the next stoppage or that he decides to punish the player who was guilty of greater physical severity. That is a judgement call.
If both are equally guilty then it down to tactical impact which may be punishing the team with the ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Trent,
The LOTG do allow a referee who stops play for ANY reason not addressed by the LOTG to use the drop ball restart.
Unfortunately the LOTG offer a solution for your situation despite it could appear as an unfair one! We are to punish the most serious offence if simultaneous offences occur by a single player. Or you pick the more severe foul if opposing players are fouling one another or chose the instigator as the first foul, IF you observe it as such.
When the ball deflect between two opposing players and we are undecided WHO last touched it for a corner or goal kick or a throw in we do not award drop balls we must choose to restart in favour of one team and for the most parts fouls between opposing players are decided as who did what first. AlthoughI do find it ludicrous to think if two players are wrestling or yelling foul epithets at one another you MUST choose one over the other. I believe there is wiggle room to find opposing players creating simultaneous misconduct as a need to stop play of equal severity, then a drop ball might be the only solution that is fair. There is still room for the spirit of fair play and a solution that best fits the true nature of the match. If there are fidgety players tussling if you can verbally get them to desist, wait for the next natural stoppage then unon them. even caution show cards if YOU MUST, should they persist or give attitude
IFAB tends to think more of the professional model than recreational. I believe at the youth level it is not unwise to offer an out for coaches to sit hotheaded players without the need of cards or free kicks that mainly irritant us as referees and infuriates the opposition when we must arbitrarily chooses to award a free kick when obviously both players are mixing it up and often likely we see the reatilation more than the instigator. I have advised coaches that their players are looking rather yellowish and if perhaps they were to sit out for a few minutes they might avoid changing into the reddish range of temperament. Not strictly by the books , but given unlimited subs , multiple matches in the same day or weekends , and the fact often great distances and effort to travel are involved. I relax the substitution protocols for LOTG to allow them to sub in, then sit these ill tempered players, perhaps calming down without the use of cards . It is risky because BOTH coaches need to buy into the theme you are imposing on them. Also if you are graded by the assessors for advancement you might incur their disapproval for not adhering to the LOTG.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Trent, if this was a game player under IFAB laws (and I'm guessing it was) then unfortunately no, this was not the correct call. When using IFAB laws, even if simultaneous offences occur, you always have to punish the more serious offence.

Law 5 says:

"The referee ... punishes the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical
severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time."

I queried this with the IFAB after the law on this changed and they replied that it is not permitted to give a dropped ball in such a scenario.

In order to choose which is the more serious offence, the four criteria given in the quotation above must be applied in the order they appear.

In this particular instance it might be tricky to separate the offences so an alternative approach is to make a decision as to which player you judge to have committed the offence first, and proceed on that basis.

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