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Question Number: 34453

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/19/2021

RE: Fan Adult

Mr Anthony Owens of SOUTH SHIELDS, Tyne and Wear United Kingdom asks...

I was wondering if there are any rules regarding not awarding a free kick or penalty for a foul that happens off the ball. There was an incident today in a match between New'castle and Man City
I hope you've seen the video of the incident for reference)

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mr. Owens,
there is no rule, a foul is a foul if it is seen in context no matter the ball is nearby or not.
Should that foul be a DFK inside a PA it would be up graded to PK status. Now where it could be ignored or overlooked.

Our discretion for enforcing the LOTG or choosing to ignore certain LOTG based on the assumption it was for the good of the game, possibly an advantage situation or having a doubtful or trifling impact based on the referees' tolerance and players' acceptance of what passes for fair play even if gray or foul in nature.

I am guessing it was Manchester City's comfortable 4-0 win at Newcastle United?
Referee: Martin Atkinson. Assistants: Lee Betts, Darren Cann. Fourth official: Peter Bankes. VAR: Craig Pawson. Assistant VAR: Richard Wes.

I mention the crew, because all incidents that occur during a match all their eyes and input would be brought to bear if an incident occurs within their sphere of authority. Remember the CR opinion of an event seen, supersedes all others. A CR can receive input but bears ultimate responsibility for any decision made or unmade.

If the action is caught on camera for professional crews to overlook blatant violent conduct it would be a very difficult post-match review to explain why? There are a lot of check and review proceedures to ensure blatant violations are not missed, even if occurring out of sight of the CR!.

At the grass roots we get a limited overview, often a partial out of the corner of the eye where the players involved are engaged in what looks like a simultaneous who done it argument.

If focused on active play, while we do suggest keeping your head on a swivel and looking over the shoulder in areas where you think trouble MIGHT be brewing. a referee with integrity can only go with what they know for sure. A referee can choose to ignore minor things if they believe it has no bearing on the match outcome and players' safety is not compromised.

I have commented with no knowledge of the event you are questioning so if my colleagues or you come up with the incident on video I might add more later.

One of our colleagues Ref Wright posted this video which we think is the one you are questioning

Now it is clear the defender was winning the ball and the keeper was in fact trying to slow or mitigate his impact, so I see no pressing reason to caution the keeper, HOWEVER, the pursuing attacker was in fact tripped by the keeper inside the keepers' own PA.

Although it distresses me to be in agreement with the pundits and commentators. .
In our collective opinion this was a careless DFK foul. As it occurs inside the PA, a Penalty Kick should have been awarded.

I previously mentioned the professional crew match oversight. This incident appears pretty clear. The referee had a good look along with everyone else. Love to be a fly on the wall on the post-game break down to hear WHY this contct impeding went uncontested?

Cheers & a very Merry Christmas

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Anthony,
The law holds that a foul is a foul no matter the position of the ball on the field at the time, so long as it is in play. For instance the ball could be completely up the other end of the pitch and if a goalkeeper commits a foul inside his own penalty area against an opponent that would still be a penalty kick.

If you're referring to the incident during this weekend's Newcastle game where Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson wiped out opposing forward Ryan Fraser inside the City penalty area while the ball was a few yards away then I have to say I thought this should have been given as a penalty.

I don't often compliment the pundits on TV shows, but on the BBC Match of the Day programme, they got this right, correctly pointing out that it doesn't matter if another player on a team has the ball some yards away, it doesn't give license to their teammates to just wipe out an opponent with impunity.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Anthony
In my opinion this was a foul and there has been no change in the Law on what constitutes a foul. It makes no difference whether the ball is present or not. Sure what would stop a defender tripping a forward who is chasing after a ball that is some 10 yards away to prevent him getting to the ball or challenging for it?
In this case the attacker also had the chance to put pressure on the defender had he not been fouled. Also as there was no goal scoring opportunity present at the time of the challenge it was not going to necessitate a red card and as it was at worst careless so no card would have been required. In an OGSO situation it would probably merit a red card as it was not a challenge for the ball.

Now I also watched the Liverpool game and the non award of a penalty for the challenge on Jota by Royal. It was reported that the referee said to Jurgen Klopp that Jota stopped and invited the contact which knocked him to the ground? That suggest to me that referees may have been advised to look for situations where attackers try to *win* penalties.

Now I wonder if the senior group referees have been "advised" to only award *stonewall* penalties. From what I have seen recently I suspect that VAR has adopted a more benign approach on such refereeing decisions and not interfering with on field decisions.
In the fairly recent Leicester v N'Castle game there was a penalty award for a challenge on Maddison
When I looked at it I said to myself that the player has helped the award in that the defender's foot is planted and the attacker makes no effort to avoid it or try to go around it. He does not have to and there wasn't much if any complaint about the award. It was naive defending yet on closer viewing it was *soft* as it could have been avoided. I saw another angle of this which showed the attacker move to his right when the more attacking move should have been to the left. Could I see it not be given? Probably not yet based on the N'Castle and Liverpool calls maybe now?
Here is another one
Perhaps that type of calls has influenced SG referees to be mindful of such type of situations and only award blatant offences that could not be avoided or added to by the attackers? Just a thought.

BTW I was at a game recently where a referee awarded a penalty for a trip well away from the ball with the ball in the goalkeepers hands. It was a trip yet it caused ructions in that the conceding team felt it was soft and not connected with play.

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