Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34450

Character, Attitude and Control 12/11/2021

RE: Competitive Adult

Tony of Whitehorse, Yukon Canada asks...

In the MLS Cup Final, in the last seconds when Portland scored there was a foul. Not sure any ref could deny there was a foul but could or should a ref call that on the last play of the game. Yikes!!!

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Tony,
I haven't seen the incident in question but my response would be that any clear and obvious foul should be called by a referee whenever it occurs - be that on the first or the last play of the game.

Of course, if it wasn't actually a foul (and it seems perhaps there could actually be some doubt about that) then all bets are off.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tony
I echo the sentiments of Referee Grove. A foul should be called whether it is in the first minute or the last minute.

I have looked at the replay of the incident multiple times and to be honest there is a question mark in my mind. The Portland player #33 Mabiala gets sort of sandwiched between two NYC defenders, one of which is stepping backwards #4 Chanot towards the ball which has gone over him. That NYC player makes no effort to jump just stepping back nor does the other defender # 24 Gray coming from behind jump for the ball. The Portland player who is coming forward jumps to head and makes contact with both players and the falls to the ground with NYC#4. The Portland's players with a slightly raised arm as he has jumped has NYC #4 under him which makes contact. It was not a push, nor does he hold the player down nor does he use the arm aggressively.

Was it a clear and obvious error not to call it. Obviously VAR did not think so and it went with the on-field referee decision of the referee which was no foul. The referee could not be better placed as he had a perfect view of it. NYC#4 backing into the Portland players while making no effort to jump to play the ball did not help for a foul to be called.

Now a call like that by the referee would take some fortitude particularly in the last minute of a cup final game particularly an intense last 10 minutes. . Would I have given it? I don't think so. NYC#4 is not getting the ball from his position nor by his movement and in ways he has contributed to the contact.

In this part of the world referees are being advised that contact on its own is only part of what referees should look for. If there is clear contact that has a consequence, then that’s what referees have got to penalise. It is a contact sport and not all contact is a foul that has to be penalised. To me a big central defender has been brought forward in the last minutes of a game and he goes for a ball coming in contact with defenders who do not challenge for the ball and they all come together. As a referee I was always conscious of the "big guy" getting penalised for being just the "big guy" in challenges.Yeah it can and will be given yet was it so clear and obvious not to give it? At least two officials thought it was not deserving of a foul for the goal to be chalked off. So I sort of like that process where VAR is not refereeing the game from a chair yet understands that the referee is some 7/8 yards from it at ground level and he does not feel an offence deserving of a free kick.

As an aside I always have to laugh at the antics of players after some games. NYC #4 goes ballistic with the AR on the technical side and then is seen running off towards the referee I assume. What is the referee going to say or do, "Tell you what you are 100% correct and we are chalking off that goal now and the game doesn't go to extra time" Does he think the AR could have made a call when the referee is stood 7/8 yards away from the incident and the AR is some 25/30? LOL.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Tony,
I too echo the sentiments of Referee Grove. A foul should be called whether it is in the first minute or the last minute.

If the foul is clear, obvious and affecting the match you HAVE to whistle . A little push, pull shove or far away from the action perhaps you over look it unless VC or SFP in which case it is what it is and there are consequences for acting in such a despicable manner.

If the CR from a few yards away feels content to NOT blow his whistle I, as an AR, from across the FOP might disagree but would not publicly call him out on it . IF I felt strongly it was a foul, I might stand my ground indicating a request to a 1 to 1 conversation to give my point of view if I thought the CR had missed something but a screaming coach or player gets no love from me ever. I do understand disappointment and emotional carnage of not getting a result they felt they deserved and the need for a result they simply wanted. That however is NOT my problem and nor should any referee make it theirs!

I watched it only in the highlight, referee was right there. There is only ONE time you call that as it was an attacker fouling the defender you whistle IMMEDIATELY to head off ANY extra play like in how that goal resulted.

IF it was reversed and it was a defender who fouled the attacker THEN you wait and see what might develop before awarding a PK or DFK as that goal would be appreciated.

Perhaps if the jump into the back and free arm across the chest was just the 2 of them the contact might be called yet the defender was back peddling not looking up and the 3rd defender looked to push, pull and that might have been enough for the referee to decide it is just some contact going for the ball.

Cheers & Merry Christmas .

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34450
Read other Q & A regarding Character, Attitude and Control

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>