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Question Number: 34650

Mechanics 8/1/2022

RE: Competitive Under 17

MATTHEW J PLODINEC of BRISTOW, VA United States asks...

A defender heads into a challange on his feet against an opponent in possession of the ball near midfield as the opponent is heading directly away from me (CR). The defender attempts a tackle and the attacker goes down, but from my angle, I don't see any contact and my AR doesn't give me any indication of a foul. Even had I seen the foul, I Iikely would not have played advantage. The attacking team maintains possession however, the attack fizzles out and the defense starts to build from the back. I stop play as the original attacker is still down. My initial mental note was a DB restart for the defense. However, I checked with my AR who said it was clearly a reckless foul. I award the yellow to the guilty defender. What is the correct restart? As there was a caution given for a reckless tackle, I gave the free kick. Since the next restart had not occurred, i believe this is a technically correct decision. However, it appeared to the coaches that I played advantage and brought it back. The defender's coach wound up earning himself a caution. This might have been avoidable if I'd just awarded the caution to the player and not changed the restart. Since, I didnt actually play advantage, my logic was that I was just going back to the foul. Had the issue been a possible RC offense, I would have stopped play immediately. What should I have done?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matthew
Thanks for the question.

First point is that the assistant who saw the reckless challenge which was unseen by you should have flagged for the offence when it was clear that no advantage signal was shown and it would have tidied it up immediately. Caution for the reckless challenge and a direct free kick restart. Better team work and an understanding of what was happening would have perhaps prevented what came to pass.

My take on it was that the reason play was stopped was for the injury treatment NOT the offence and as play had continued for a period then I believe the restart was a dropped ball to the team in possession with the offending player still being cautioned.
Technically play can be brought back to the original offence which is what you ended up doing yet the Law is somewhat mute on how far one can or should go back in time other than the few seconds advice. It is really a judgment call based on how much play has elapsed and if it is credible to bring play back as the restart needs to be somewhat appropriate to the reason play was stopped. It is the reason why the advantage clause mentioned *a few seconds*. VAR has somewhat extended the period of bringing play back yet at grassroots we are still dependant on mechanics without it.

Put it another way. Let's say that advantage was played with the attacking team maintaining possession and it comes to nothing with the 3/4 seconds passing then play would not be brought back to the original offence. The offender would still be cautioned at the next stoppage which in your case was the stoppage in play for the injury.
I believe that approach would have tidied it up as a "sell" that an "advantage" of sorts was seen to be played and that play was stopped for the injury not the foul. There could be no real gripe then as it would be accepted that the offending player could be cautioned at the first stoppage and play restarted with the reason play was stopped which was the injury,.

I suppose that if play has continued for a period which goes well beyond the accepted period of advantage then it can be a hard sell to bring play all the way back to the original foul which is what happened here. It is not incorrect in law to bring it back yet I suppose the reaction of the coaches showed that it was understood that play was "allowed" to continue for a period of time perhaps beyond the advantage period so the attacking team can be seen to get two bites at the apple, an attack that came to nothing and then getting a free kick again.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Matthew,

So, first thing that comes to mind is that the teamwork between yourself and your AR could have done with some improvement. What do you cover in your prematch discuss - do you cover how you communicate to the AR, during play, that you're unsighted (usually it's 'if it's something that looks like it's my area but I'm staring at you, I'm asking for your help)? Did you look to your AR for assistance at the time of the incident, or was the AR of the impression that you saw it and made your decision?

Situations like this do lead to difficult, complicated situations. We don't want to shirk from the right decision - and if a decision has to be made, then so be it. But we also want to consider what's fairest for the game and what is the easiest to 'sell'. Now, refs talk a lot about the easy sell - I do NOT advocate shirking your duties in favour of the easy sell, but it's worth considering when you have a few possible options with no clear path that you need to take.

Cautioning that player sounds right. But you say this happens up at midfield, then the attack continued upfield. Honestly, it sounds to me like there's a reasonable argument that they had advantage. While you might not have awarded it in that situation, at this point I think you need to consider whether there was, in effect, some plausible advantage. Sounds like it, so I don't think the FK absolutely HAS to be given (if, for instance, the defending team got the ball immediately then you'd need to award the kick).

The fact that you didn't signal advantage doesn't necessarily mean that advantage hasn't occurred. So, don't be too worried about that.

It's a tricky situation, and the takeaway is really how to improve teamwork to PREVENT this situation from arising. Was it communication between yourself and your AR lacking? Did the AR not know our expectations? And of course you need to consider how it was that you missed a reckless foul - was there something you didn't recognise as a foul, were you in a poor position, was it a late tackle and you looked away too soon, or something else?

Finally, when you have a long break in play like this and you have to make a decision that you know the players won't understand, it might be worth pulling both captains in to quickly talk to them and explain what has happened - you can even call in the player you're going to card at the same time. Take a moment to explain to the captains and that may reduce problems. If you are going to go back to the FK, I'd suggest something like the following, with the captain and the player you're going to card (though to reiterate, if there's any plausible claim that advantage was played out, even a weak advantage, I'd have stuck with the Drop Ball):

"Gentleman, I just wanted to let you both know what's happening, because it's a bit of an odd one. So, I missed what happened to your player up at midfield, I'll put my hand up and apologise for that, but I've spoken to my assistant and he told me that you've clipped him with your studs in the tackle. After that, you guys attacked but the guy who received the ball never had a chance to keep it, so you never had an advantage. So because of that, we're going to go back for a free kick for the foul, and it's a yellow card for the foul as well"

If they start to argue, you can follow up with something like "Captain, I already apologised for my part in this, but I have full confidence in my assistant that he did foul him, and there was no advantage. I called you over to let you both know what's happening as a courtesy, and hoping that you'll both help make sure none of your players pick up a silly card as a result of this. Now let's get on with the game, your player is about to leave the field, so let's all get into position for the free kick"

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Matt,
lot of good insight in my colleagues answers. Positioning, angle of view, running the diagonal, eye contact. A good referee team tries to ensure the players get the best results no matter the circumstances. I often use the phrase, Your match, your decision, your reputation! This is where integrity and respect often play a large part in your character when making actionable discourse with the players. Admitting a mistake or taking a moment to explain an unusual restart can serve to calm & reassure the players you are looking out for their interests. JUST as long as you are not constantly admitting to a lot of mistakes and taking the match into extra time lol!

When close to the action, as the CR I DO like to make the decision and have the flag raised in support as I whistle or indicate advantage rather than react to their flag but I also establish eye contact and do the hunch shoulder, hands at 45 degree, thumbs up quizzical Do YOU see anything? if I am uncertain. The old days of anything in the PA is mine, is long gone thanks to the Hand of GOD Maradona where the AR KNEW it was a deliberate handling but was told by the referee only he would make any PK decision.

The mechanics of a CR perhaps telling the ARs how to best assist in certain situations takes experience and understanding. Aside from the ideocracies of subtle hand or body gestures (like tapping the back pocket to indicate that's a red card in my opinion to the tapping of the shirt pocket indication of the yellow card, book him Dano, I ask that my ARs please do their level best not letting me make a blatant mistake. You see it and KNOW it, and fully aware that I missed it, you raise that flag and wave it as if you mean it!

Unlike the Zidane incident which was complicated by the fact the referee missed the altercation was in behind play a restart had already occurred via a foul by the Italians and a quick restart by the French . In you situation there was no restart just a delay of the necessary information! Grassroots is not techno orientated even the elite referee with the bells and whistles and technology with all their vaunted training and programs look at the issues that STILL occur! I recommend you think about each match, post game using feedback mentors assessments and look to find fault if only to improve upon it NOT to get downhearted! Cheers

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