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Question Number: 34960

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/26/2023

RE: Adult

AEK Fan Club Of NY of ASTORIA, NY USA asks...

Following up on the previous question, found a video with the entire timeline before the red team scored.

25" in the yellow player is elbowed on the neck

still photo here

and here:

so repeating the questions from the previous post, regarding to this specific event

a. is it a penalty for the yellow team?
b. Should the referee had stopped gameplay, since there was a player down, holding his throat?
c. Should the VAR looked at this event, as affecting play, since the red team scored in the counter attack? Because VAR did not look into this event at all

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Thanks for the follow up.
In my opinion this is typical of players reacting to any contact on the head no matter how trivial. The contact does not look serious to me and it is more incidental contact that a deliberate elbow used as a weapon which would be a red card and a penalty kick. So correct decision for me.

As to the need to stop play it does not look like it is a serious injury situation so the referee was entitled to allow play to continue.
Indeed when Yellow gain possession of the ball there is no immediate attempt to put the ball out of play so even team mates do not believe it is a serious injury.

As to VAR involvement I do not see enough here that tells me that the referee has made a clear error by not awarding a penalty kick and that there was a need to stop play.
Every single incident in a game gets what is called a “silent check” by VAR and there needs to be a clear and obvious error for VAR formal involvement. VAR might also be able to review this using other camera angles.

As a final point referees have to decide what constitutes a serious injury and the circumstances of that injury occurring. Just because a player goes down to the ground does not mean a serious injury that the game has to be stopped for.

One of the real problems for the game now is over reaction to any contact to try to influence decisions. In a recent EPL game Harry Kane was pushed in the face and he went down like it was a heavy punch. It was a red card offence under the EPL guidelines yet it did not need the embarrassing fall by Kane as if he was thumped by a knock out punch.
Likewise in the recent Man City v Arsenal game there was an incident where a City defender raised his arm to hold back an Arsenal forward. The referee called the foul and the player was down as if he was seriously injured. There was a holding foul with an outstretched arm that made contact with the players face yet it was not a serious injury and indeed the reaction was to ensure the offence was called and perhaps a card. No card was issued which in my opinion was correct.

So in this situation for me
1. It is not a penalty.
2. I do not see a need to stop play for a serious injury.
3. The incident would have been reviewed by VAR.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi there,
well looks like you put some due diligence in researching this, so good on you for examining the way in which decisions are interpreted. VAR could be looking to see if there was REASON to intervene, but on the surface, the incident did not look overly dangerous or suspicious. The referee turned up-field almost immediately and appeared to give the contact no real credibility as a reason to stop play. It did not appear to be a violent arm swing with intention. As an accidental contact I suppose it could illicit a pain response but I saw no overt careless action initiated that convinced me to award a PK foul and think to card the action. Referee had full view, as did AR, so did VAR likely with better camera angles than what we see and saw no reason to investigate. My opinion based on what I could see in the frames and video the referee was correct to play on!

I recall a u 21 ladies match where a back spinning ball was ed in over the top, being pursued by the defender with an attacker stride for stride right on her butt. The thing was the ball was struck into the wind with backspin! Once the ball landed out beyond the two players, it reversed itself extremely quickly to where the defender abruptly stopped to play the ball on her chest. It was true, her arms were slightly chicken winged but they were not bent back as an assault into the pursuing players face . The opponent was unaware of the reason for the stoppage, so intent she was on getting by she waltzed right into right arm of the defender. Howls from the touchlines for the demand I award a free kick. I saw no reason to give one just because she ran into the back of an elbow of a fast slowing almost stationary player desperately struggling to control the ball now approaching her chest. The contact did look painful and I did say "Are you ok? Can you continue?' I saw no free flowing blood, plus she remained on her feet. I saw no reason to stop play as the ball bounced off the defender once again rolling in the original direction with others in pursuit.
Sometimes players just come together and neither is of greater fault than the other!


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