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Question Number: 34872

Law 5 - The Referee 2/11/2023

RE: Select Under 10

Andrew McAllister of North Bend, Washington United States asks...

In a throw-in.
After the game, both coaches informed me that a player from the opposing team had punched the hurt player. The opposing team member that hit the attacking player had been pushed by the attacking player before this happened.
If I didn't see any of this happen, what would be the correct call?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Andrew,

It is likely you are officiating as a single referee at the lower ages, so you do not have ARS as neutral observers that COULD witness an event unseen by you .

As the CR you can fashion a decision from that neutral information.

As a referee you cannot call what you do not see .

Although it is conceivable the coaches have relevant truthful information you can not rely on that as they are NOT neutral observers. Also if this was truly mentioned after the match ended it is too late to do much of anything except perhaps include it in a misconduct report .

However if it was brought to your attention before you are about to restart with a throw in.
You could choose to delay that restart and have a no nonsense discussion with both team coaches and perhaps the players in question. I am sorry if I missed something but I can not tolerate any VC by anyone . I expect fair play from all participants and yet I cannot call what I do see in behind me. I suggest perhaps as coaches you control your players and deal with their behaviors as with any upset child and sit them out reminding them this is a fun game not a battle royal. Now lets get on with the game and restart with the throw in.

ONLY if you had 100% verifiable evidence from neutral officials or possibly an admission by the actual play with skinned knuckles standing over a bleeding opponent should you deal with the strike as a DFK event and cardable show the red card send off. reduce the team a player.

I have seen players squaring off and run in to try and set them apart, well aware that something happened but perhaps unaware of what. I do try to track players looking for payback and pay attention if I can see animosity building between certain players. Although you do not have eyes in the back of your head being proactive in addressing issues! Having a a shoulder check as you move away from trouble spots. Mention to the players that they are on your radar and if ARs are in assistance get them to pay attention to in behind the play.

Some dissent is normal, you miss an incident or make a call or no call on a previous play, however it could fester if it is not satisfactorily addressed in a way as to ease tensions. So listen to the grumbles ONLY to gain knowledge, not react or do as they wish.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


Since you did not see a punch and because the game has ended, there is no call. All you can do is tell the coaches that you did not see the punch so no call can be made.

You may want to reflect on what actions occurred that may have resulted in a punch, how you handled them, and what you could have done different. Perhaps a strong warning or a caution to either or both players could have been warranted and would have prevented punch if it did occur.

Reflection on what you might or should have done different and utilizing this knowledge in future games us something you should do after every game. It will improve your officiating.

I hope this helps and you have a successful officiating year.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andrew

A referee can only give what they see and if both incidents are unseen then so be it.

I can safely say that there is no referee that has missed some misconduct in a game at some point in their career as a match official. Something happens behind their back when play is elsewhere which is unseen and that has to be accepted.

I recall a game where a player made contact with an opponent which knocked the player to the ground. When I turned around the opponent was getting up to remonstrate with the player. Play had just been stopped so my attention was towards that incident.
The captain of the player that allegedly struck the opponent said to me that I did not see the incident which was correct. I told him that I did not see it yet I would be missing nothing in respect of that player for the last 30 minutes of the game. I has strong suspicion as to what happened yet I could not deal with it as I could not honestly report what I had seen. Some 5 minutes player the player was substituted which helped the game and caused less problems for me

At the end of the game the coach from the opposing team complained to me about how could a player guilty of violent conduct not be dismissed and I said to him that if I see any violent conduct I would have no hesitation in the player being dismissed. I told him that it happened behind my back and I apologised that I missed it. I told him I was there on my own and that I did not have eyes in the back of my head. He accepted my explanation and apology for missing it and that was the end of the matter.
I was not happy about it and I looked back on why it happened to try to limit ways that I would miss such incidents. Simple mechanics such as looking inwards to the field of play, towards the majority of players say at a caution / stoppage was an obvious position change and became part of my movement. Looking back at players on the ground after a challenge was another.

So referees can only give what they see. They might have strong suspicions of what transpired yet a referee could not write an honest misconduct report on something that was not seen by them.
If the coach of the player wants to take club discipline for the misconduct then that is what should happen yet that rarely if ever happens. I have seen on one or two occasions over a lifetime where coaches removed players for unseen misconduct. That's of no concern to a referee.

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