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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34267

Law 5 - The Referee 7/15/2021

RE: Under 19

Larry of DANVILLE, CA US asks...

Law 5 states the referee “punishes the more serious offense, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and impact, when more than one offense occurs at the same time”. This makes since when two players are both fouling each other and you decide one of them was worse than the other, but how about when team A commits a careless foul and before you have a chance to blow your whistle a team B player slugs the team A player. What if the violent conduct happens immediately after you blow your whistle? What if it happens several seconds after your call? Who gets these restarts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
Thanks for the question.
The Law 5 quote relates to the very rare event of simultaneous offences. Generally, totally simultaneous offences do not happen in challenges as one offence happens first as in your example. In the cases of the also rare simultaneous offences by the same player such as handling on a double touch or handling on offside many referees will go with the most obvious offence. If the flag has gone up for offside a referee will call that rather than perhaps the question of handling by the PIOP.

Many in the game saw the use of this law as referees not making decisions and consequently it was rarely used. In all my years refereeing I never used it and I simply gave what I saw as the first offence or in the case of doubt to the most obvious one. I recall in a game two players launching themselves at the ball in a challenge on a 50 / 50 and both in my opinion were equally guilty of poor challenges. I had spoken to one of the players earlier about the manner of his challenges and I called the offence against him rather than the dropped ball restart which was the law at that time which is now a DFK based on sanction, restart, physical severity and impact. So my decision then would be correct in Law now!

In your scenario, the first offence which was committed by the player from Team A is punished with a direct free kick. The player from Team B will be sanctioned with a card either a caution or a dismissal if it was violent conduct. The restart does not change. Once play has been stopped, any misconduct that happens after the stoppage is sanctioned with the appropriate card and the restart of why the play was stopped in the first place does not change.

For example player Team A fouls a player from Team B which is called. A few seconds later a player from Team B strikes an opponent. That player from Team B is sent off for violent conduct yet the restart is still a direct free kick to Team B.

Some sports depending on the severity of the misconduct reverse the decision yet soccer is not one of those. An interesting point as well is that the whistle is only the *signal* of the actual decision by the referee. So in the case where the referee has decided that an offence has been committed by a player yet, he has not signalled it that is the decision that is made. Anything that happens between that call and the whistle signal does not change the call. So, for example, Player A is fouled in the penalty area and the referee waits to see if there is an advantage which does not happen yet during the wait and see period Player A commits an offence the referee punishes the original offence on Player A with a penalty kick.

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