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Question Number: 35113

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/24/2023

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


one situation, please.

'The ball is in play. Players start pushing each other. The referee stops the game. He wants to give both of them a yellow card. Then player A punches player B.'

What is the decision? Red card for player A and yellow card for player B? I think yes :-) Or player A gets two cards? (yellow for pushing and red for punching?) I think probably not. What if he already had one yellow? Then he wouldn't be able to get a straight red. :-)

What is the restart? For whom?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
The referee has to decide who committed the first offence as that will be the restart.
As to the card situation if the two cautions to each of the players have been already issued and then violent conduct that is a red card dismissal. The first caution should also be reported along with the red card. If a player is already on a caution then the two cautions also gets reported along with the red card. The sending off report should include all the relevant facts.

Generally if a referee is stopping play with no certainty as to who committed the first offence I would advise to go with the least contentious decision such as a DB or even a defensive free kick. The free kick is not supported in Law and the DB can be confusing as the teams may not know what was going on with even doubt who last played the ball. The Laws require that the first offence is punished. The DB can also be in an attacking situation with opponents having to move back which may allow a cross into the penalty area.
Many times allowing play to continue until the next stoppage and then dealing with it is the easier solution. Players can be pushing, tugging at each other, squaring up but not egregious enough to stop play.
If there is violent conduct then play is stopped with a red card and that for me is the reason for the restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
the difference in reality of a pro match where there are full set of officials , cameras, VAR specialized communication etc.. With all that additional help the LOTG are pretty clear. The initial instigator is identified and the stoppage is for that incident. The secondary VC punch/strike is additional misconduct after a stoppage which is a direct send off show the red card and reduce the team by a player. You would add in match report that you were in the process of cautioning them both for when the ball was in play but then showed the red card to the one player for the additional VC strike when the ball was not in play. .

As single referee on a park outing even with ARs perhaps a 4th the communication details to identify who started what are not going to be so self evident, unless, you actually saw it unfold in real time. It is unfortunate, but we often catch the retaliation as blatant, yet unclear what might have caused it. We cannot give what we do not know thus the call will be for what we do know.

My colleague alluded to about picking the least harmful decision if uncertain. It is not recommended but neither is it impossible, if say the ball was inside the PA, a DB restart goes to the keeper and you could show the yellow card cautioning to both players with not choosing who gets the kick. If it is a DFK and they are inside the PA at either end unless you pick in the defenders favour as an out going DFK you must award a PK should you go the attackers way.

Also if a referee notices the tussle through say an over the shoulder back check or as it shaping up in front A verbal "Cut the crap out or face the consquences!" or an awareness the ball is exiting the FOP for throw, corner or goal kick , or as mentioned the ball is inside a PA so a keeper gets a DB if the NEED to immediate prevent escalation and whistle. In youth matches I have done the, "Hmm coaches these boys look ill, you might want to rest them for a while until they cool down." That is assuming its a roll about grabbing wrestle not full blown fists flying.

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