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Question Number: 34720

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/1/2022

G. Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

The Vancouver Whitecaps' Lucas Cavallini is a known trouble-maker and referees must groan when they see his name on the roster. He has 21 cautions and 2 red cards in 61 games. Positives: 17 goals scored.

His latest caper, a 'light' head stomp on a prone Nashville player that he had knocked down, cost him four games.

In his first game back, it looked like the opposition wanted to give him some of his own medicine, and the referee seemed to ignore their "welcome back" greetings.

First, the "stomp" which I suspect didn't leave a mark, but was incredibly foolish:

Now for his 'welcome back' after missing all of September. In this clip, he performs a legal slide tackle, then gets a foot deliberately raked across his groin. No call. Not even a tongue-lashing.

Next, Cavallini gains position and is knocked over from behind. It looks like the defender is only looking for (illegal) contact and not the ball. The defender then seems to 'just' miss stepping on Cavalini's head. No call again.

The 2-0 Caps win nearly ended in a brawl, due in part to not dealing with the rough stuff.

Your thoughts? Things we can learn from these (not great quality) clips, about reffing ruffians?

Thanks again!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Thanks for the video
That file format you are using requires a CODEC for some systems which must be purchased from Microsoft. There is free version through VLC player that supports that video format.

On the red card incident it was stonewall red card and absolutely no excuse for this and in my opinion 4 games was light for this. It was beyond foolish and extremely dangerous as a stud could crack a players skull. Pepe of Real Madrid got 10 games for a thuggish outburst against a Getafe player in 2009. While there were a number of incidents in the Pepe sending off the
ban sent out a strong message that there is no place in the game for this type of behaviour.

As to the video of the slide challenge by Cavallini there is not a hope that this is a foul. Cavallini slides under the opponent and there is no evidence that the opponent has done anything untoward as part of the challenge. There is no unnatural movement or an action that looks like malice intent towards the player.
In my opinion your description of a foot being raked across the groin is exaggerated. I think you are looking for something that is not there. To me it is a slide challenge which then has a slight coming together and there is zero reaction from anyone including Cavallini that anything untoward has happened.

On the 2nd one it is a stonewall foul of a push in the back knocking the player to the ground. At the Pro level this is simply a foul only unless it stopped a promising attack and the viewing angle is limited to assess that. As to any contact afterwards again it is normal playing movement with the player's eyes on the ball only. There is no untoward movement towards the player so just a foul for me

As to the learning points in here the key for me is that the lone official has to pay particular attention to the "ruffian" players as you describe them particularly off the ball. I suspect a single lone official may not have got that "stomp" so looking back can always be advised when players are on the ground or have tussled.
As to reputation I always looked on each game as a fresh start and I have seen players who behaved in a thuggish manner in one game be on best behaviour in another. I certainly would not allow these type of player to be treated any different that anyone else on the field of play. Every league has them and I can think of Fellaini, Barton, Shawcross, Adams, Keane, Savage to mention a few that put themselves about in the EPL over the years and who could always expect a card. I once heard Robbie Savage comment on a game as a pundit that if he made the tackle that was being reviewed he would have been carded basically due to his reputation. That can be more to do with match control as opponents know the character of these players and if they see a referee not taking action on a player who has a poor reputation it can cost match control.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
Easy red card no doubt whatsoever
No problems from what I got to see the tackle was fine. I saw no weight distribution grind or twist foot dip or flip nothing done by the stripped attacker stood out for me pun intended! For me no call play on! WAs he writhing on the ground in agony after? Nothing showed this so I am speculative only.

A DFK foul for a push from behind but there was no contact in about the head.
Perhaps there was some physicality to other situations but nothing from the two shown would indicate that. I would likely have to review the game in overall to gain a better understanding of your frame of reference for unduly targeting a player. Was that shove one of multiple times down or the first foul?

Players that pack a reputation for poor sportsmanship be it a tendency to dive might not get a cheap selling a foul called if it looks too blatant or those that use vulgar tactics, Suarez was a player for Uruguay who I thought should be banned from the game for his biting BS you almost wished someone would just flat lay him out. Iron players like Keane who use intimidation and seem to go in hard every tackle as if hurting the player was a tactical inevitability. Guys like him were expected to set a tone & inspire their teams for the match particularly against newer or the razzle dazzle ball handler's players who were thinking they could just breeze into the league or through the midfield at their leisure!
Guys like Keane epitomized those who never shirked a challenge, where they believed feigning injury & pretending to be hurt was a crime against the sport, and a follow up comment of “see you out on the pitch was purposefully meant! Watch your back mate I will be looking for a chance! That terrifies players even if they might not like to admit it and truth is it also frightens referees. I know referees who were so scared of a player that in a close decision if the player yelled for a call, they gave it even if they thought no.

As referees we can go both ways towards the wrong approach, overprotective and kill momentum, too scared to let anything go or too lenient too often, too scared to call anything then faced with a harsh outcome of trying to regain control. Both are recipes for disaster although you are better off using the first one in youth matches as their safety is number 1 priority.

Try to give everyone their due. New match, new beginning but head on a swivel as often the indication for future events is past history. The, I am not perfect but fair speech, My ARs 100% off-limits to any BS you bring it to me when or if anything occurs, in a reasonable tone and time but once I make a decision we agree to disagree and move on.

I am as proactive as s any referee in trying to head off trouble but I have always refrained from commenting on the individuals prone to being carded or using tough tactics.
Like not saying
"I was thinking should I warm these up or not? getting eye contact and be handing the cards. as I did this"
Yet it is not unwise to let a team know that you are aware of the past and a general comment like, *The final is around the corner and sitting on those cumulative cautions another could mean he misses the final. Be sad not to see him play in the finals."

My belief is as a neutral official it is not our job to intimidate or threaten players to watch their behavior while letting them know we are aware is not quite the same. Our job is to identify when they choose a poor way of showing it, it is not ignored, nor will it be tolerated!! Be it a verbal warning, a yellow card caution or a direct red card sendoff you shall receive based on your choice of actions.

In the many years I have officiated as a single referee or with a crew having to deal with hard-nosed players in particular the mouthy ones were my biggest pain nonstop verbal diarrhea of the mouth where it was like a tooth ache of discomfort having to endure their useless annoying chatter trying not to punish the team for their being a complete butthead.

At the youth level it was easier to calm irritate or players looking for payback as you could at times appeal to the coaches by warning them a player was boiling on the edge of going in on a bust a leg tackle so a rest/sub might help take it down a peg.

Aside from managing the difficult players or seeking to protect a good player from unwarranted attention the difficulties of multiple subs, bees, geese, frozen pitches, screaming parents I have always respected and appreciated and tried to emulate and learn from the FIFA IFAB referees in how they deal with all kinds of incredible players & situations.

Some making an absolute mess of it, others brilliantly picking their way through.

I recall the Holland Portugal match where the Russian referee had no way out of a bad situation or the France Italy final where the sendoff of possibly the greatest player in the world was so shocking.

Or my disbelief in watching Beckham sent off after being crushed by a horrific tackle by the Argentian who then dives in an obscene display of sportsmanship as Beck lifted a bent leg

Or the ferocious knee of the German keeper flatting the Argentian with a free kick actually awarded in favour of Germany

Or the three-card caution and foot in the chest misses, offside goals awarded and missed that the new VAR could never have allowed

Or the controversy in 1998 between Brazil and Norway where the referee showed a billion people what integrity really looks like.

I only know this, no one is perfect but those with integrity, who give it their best effort and despite what anyone thinks or says sticks to what they BELIVE is right even if later it could be wrong! I like to think, ego aside, that I and my fellow colleague on this site
follow the ethics and belong in that group no matter our faults.

Integrity is the gift of self-respect but to earn the respect of others is a task to build on. Confidence not arrogance, knowledge of the LOTG, understanding the spirit of the game while effectively managing the competitive emotional insatiability of players and coaches needing victory. A sense of humor, sardonic irony and a thick skin to ward off the touchline theatrics of the disenchanted! Refereeing is like any job there are good things and bad things that can and do occur. You prepare for the worst by doing your best Put yourself in a position to see and make good decisions, have the courage to make or not make a call as the match requires. You will never please everyone but if you can fool yourself into thinking hey I got this you might just fool those watching as well! lol

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