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Question Number: 34794

League Specific 12/5/2022

RE: World Cup question

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

I've heard the World Cup refs have been advised to allow some extra degree of physicality, but I'm hoping we are advised "Don't try this at home," when we head back to our recreational and league fixtures.

A few examples:

One game blurs into another, so I can't remember which it was but there was one instance in the span of a few seconds when a player went straight up for a header and was hammered by a charge in the back, with no call... then the other team did the same thing and also got away with it.

I was seeing yellow for both of them.

Today, in the wonderful Japan-Croatia game, a Japanese defender had position on the ball and the Croatian ran up from behind and pushed him with both hands, enough to throw the defender off balance. The Croatian then stole the ball and got off a dangerous shot. No call.

As always, thank you for your panel's advice.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry

I recall a few years ago a Pro game referee at a grassroots meeting advising referees not to follow what happens in the Pro game. The Pro game has way more factors in the mix such as ability, strength, what players expect, what the organisers want and what is advised by the referee technical group. Even keeping players on the field of play can be a factor such as in tournaments that have the accumulated two caution suspension policy.

So I do believe that the FIFA Referee Technical group has given advice to referees which reflects on the field of play such as greater physicality, fewer cautions and the most obvious one to us is the amount of added time. I also noticed that where players go down with contact on the back a good few have not been given. Many times players feel contact on the back and when it is to their benefit they go to ground seeking a foul. In the past those would be called yet in this WC they appear not to be called as regularly.
I suspect that if it is the advice that referees will be judged on and how they implement the *advice* during games. The ones that annoys me the most are the whistle to stop the restart so that players can be spoken to. Saw one in the Brazil v Korea game and there was no shenanigans whatsoever but sure it has to be done by the referee who went across to speak to players. I have yet to see one referee take action after all the *advising*
The other one is the penalty kick procedure which now results in a lengthy walk around by the referee speaking to the goalkeeper about the line, speaking to players on both sides of the D etc etc. It takes forever. I even think that the Korean GK hit the bar with his hands which was not dealt with yet sure the referee did what was required by the technical group. Even during the recent KFTPM the referee spoke multiple times to the GKs.

I suspect as well that after the soft Ronaldo penalty that referees may have been advised to toughen up on penalty awards.

As to the incident you refer to and as I saw it also and the push was a clear foul. Either the referee saw it and decided that the defender went down too easily looking for a free out or he did not see it and VAR based on the *advice* decided that it was not a clear and obvious error by the referee. I suspect it is the former and that as the referee decided not to award it VAR was not going to intervene based on the *advice*. Maybe and only a maybe if a goal was scored that the challenge may have been reviewed and the goal disallowed. That is just a guess and probably how it looks is important in these reviews.

For the grassroots referee if this is what is seen then it is a pushing offence which should be punished with a free kick. In that instance no caution would be required as it was not reckless.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
I think your assessment is likely correct.
No way at grass roots do we referee the same as a WC where nations rise and fall upon their sword at the outcomes and antics.
SAFETY first, results are not a concern, 22 players walking away at the end of the match to go to work, school or home!
What a referee will allow and what players tolerate is a sort of uneasy truce between them. I suspect that if a tolerated unfair act is doubtful trivial or not game altering at the WC level, let them play, let them decide. There have been so few red cards and a reasonable number of cautions, yet the CRs seem to remember who is on caution so as to avoid a red card if possible . Watch the conversation & antics on players with a caution when the referee offers them some grace. I think only 1 player was double cautioned to red or maybe cautioned then a red card event have to go look at the WC statistics to be sure . Cheers
Merry Christmas

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