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Question Number: 34704

Mechanics 9/21/2022

RE: High School

Bob of Mesa, AZ USA asks...

When a player is cautioned and has to leave the field, is it required of the referee to give an explanation for the caution

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Bob,
perhaps in absolute law no, but in practicality the individual generally knows anyway,

Although sometimes engaging in additional conversation can heighten rather than lesson the tensions, if it was a specific but rather innocuous action, any decent referee will give a brief synopsis of the why if asked . I suspect at the highschool level players, coaches and time/scorekeepers are made aware of the who and why a player is placed in the sin bin given there will be a substitution and a timeout for when that player could return to the match as a substitute once again

Proactive man management dictates we should refrain from creating something from nothing and escalating a nothing event into a critical incident. Common sense, common courtesy, common communication.

High School differs from FIFA in that a yellow card caution is a timeout for bad behavior yet allowing a mandatory substitution, whereas FIFA the player can remain on the FOP. If it was a 2nd yellow caution = a red card send off reducing the team by a player, that remains the same for both leagues


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
Experience tells us that rarely is a card shown for an offence that is not understood or connected with an offence. A player might question the merits say of a card in a reckless challenge yet all that matters is that in the opinion of the referee that it met the criteria.

We always say that good refereeing has at its core good communication so a player should be in little doubt about why a card has been produced. While there is no requirement to explain or justify any decision I always felt that telling a player the why can help in dealing with the situation and match control. I rarely have two caution sendings off and I believe the reason was that players know from my words and demeanour that any further misconduct will result in a red card. Many times I make a point of advising the player of the reason for the card and that it was up to the player to change their conduct, As Referee Grove points out the interaction if required is always brief and simply to inform rather than a discussion.

A player or a coach might ask what the card is for and I always had little problem in saying that the tackle was reckless, the language used was dissent or offensive / insulting, stopping an attack etc. I also believe that some of the less obvious ones such as persistent infringement, illegal equipment etc deserve an explanation so I will tell a player for example that its their x foul and its the reason for the caution is persistent infringement. I might even make it clear by referring to various foul locations that its an accumulation of fouls that merited the card rather than that offence alone.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bob,
It kind of depends on what you mean by "explanation." The NFHS procedural guidelines for issuing a caution say that the referee should:

"inform player of the reason for the caution or disqualification:

inform the scorekeeper, both coaches, and his/her partner"

Giving the reason does not necessarily require a long, drawn-out explanation, however. The referee has to be mindful of not being drawn into an overly-long discussion about a decision that could then descend into an argument and/or dissent about the merits of the decision.

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