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Question Number: 34866

High School 2/8/2023

RE: High School

Jeff of Portland, OR USA asks...

Had a situation in a game where an attacker lost a fair shoulder challenge vs. opponent and opponent got possession while the attacker fell down. Attacker got up gunning for the player and did what I call a "payback" tackle sliding from behind at him with no intent to play the ball. Fouled player got up and pushed him, small scuffle started that I broke up. Issued a RC to fouler and unfortunately a YC to fouled player.

Now, I wrote this up as VC rather than SFP, because I felt that this wasn't a legitimate play on the ball, which is the main requirement for a SFP offense. Just because he technically did a tackle towards the ball, I felt it had no real chance to do so. Would it be right to write up something like this as violent conduct? Or should that only be reserved for really egregious off-ball offenses? Law 12 IFAB only states "uses excessive force or brutality when not challenging for the ball"

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
Thanks for the question
If I was writing this up in a FIFA game I would be using serious foul play. The ball was being played by the opponent so while the attacker had no chance of playing the ball it is still connected with a challenge. The important part is that the player was dismissed and the relevant sanction can be administered based on the description of what tarnspired.

Violent Conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. The fact that the ball was there in the challenge makes it SFP for me.

I have sat on disciplinary panels and my experience is that the description is more important than the title. The basic suspension can be the same for SFP and VC yet say a headbutt VC will attract a higher tariff. In our Leagues the basic suspension is the same for both SFP and VC which is a minimum of 3 games. Similarly the outcome of the incident such as a serious injury the panel will consider afters, prior cards, conduct after the card in its deliberations.

Let me pose this question. Say the challenge was no connected with the first incident but happened unrelated to the incident when it had all settled or just out of the blue would you call it violent conduct or serious foul play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeff,
it is always somewhat of an issue when players go down in any challenge, fair or foul, in the receiver will feel some pay back is due . Now a whistle and a free kick with cards if needed often can solve the upset player that you are looking after things. Of course how much pain or the type of challenge may still linger. In incidents where you as the CR deemed the challenge as fair or the contact trifling keep in mind the losing player will still be upset .

In cases where I as referee see the contact judge it as fair I often remark , "That was a good challenge or Nothing there, well in! "

Much different than, "Advantage play on!", which says, we did see it as unfair but will see if you can benefit by not calling it.

Now being proactive will not stop all retaliation but it can at least give the players a heads up on the display radar of what you are likely to do. Yet if you can sense the follow up try to be close and manage it immediately as a (bad idea #3) as the players runs by, to the immediate HARD long LOUD or sharp harsh blasts on the whistle and you are right there to intervene ahead of the pushing and shoving as the tackle aftermath plays out. If this was an excessive tackle it behooves you to get close quickly so that yellow card retaliation by the non offending player might be prevented.

Your presentation of the events in the misconduct report can mention the circumstances but if the ball was at the feet and it was a slide tackle from behind SFP would suffice. My colleague Ref McHugh excellent point of if this was just a tackle with no history is good council of thought.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


If this was a high school game under NFHS rules that are played in Oregon, I believe that both players could get red cards for exhibiting violent conduct as is indicated in NFHS Rule 12-8-2a and by the definition of Violent Conduct in NFHS 18-1VV which defines violent conduct as a commission of a violent act. In this case the violent acts could be the intentional slide, the pushing, and the scuffle.

Please remember that safety of participants is a primary concern in high school soccer so that acts not considered violent at other levels are considered violent in high school play.

I hope you have a successful spring season.

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