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Question Number: 35130

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/30/2023

RE: Adult

Antonio of Porto, Portugal asks...

Video from 1:43 to 2:19

Is this fault?
Is it yellow or red card?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Antonio
In open play without the benefit of VAR this would have looked like a foul and with a covering defender the decision would be a yellow card for stopping a promising attack. There is too much to do to make it an obvious goal scoring opportunity and a red card.

Now with the benefit of VAR and slow motion it looks like the defender actually gets a touch on the ball in a fair manner before contact with the attacker which means that a foul was not present just a coming together.
In the modern game we cannot make any inference on the injury reaction of players. I do not see any heavy contact on the attacker so I am not sure if it was a strain, contact on the ground or whatever. These incidents certainly puts pressure on the referee and an injury concern adds to that pressure.
Players have figured out that if they have the *injury* there is a case for review at the next stoppage. We see it all the time with play being held up to do a check.
The restart in this situation should be a dropped ball after the caution is rescinded which I assume what happened?

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Antonio,
playing with ten so early, 19 minutes in , Porto was hard pressed to stall the Benfica attack.
Interesting, the red card awarded earlier, perfectly correct decision, for almost the same type of tackle that initially garnered a caution and then was rescinded really highlights the thinking process on these decisions.

For the record I am 100 % in agreement with my colleague Ref McHugh the tackle you are referring to was fair. The rescinding of the caution & a DB restart was correct. Good communication with VAR and the on field referee!

If you note on the earlier red card, Video from :37 to :59 Porto player played the ball fairly but it bounced into the path of the Benfica player who was on a run into the PA free and Recognizing the danger the Porto player raised up his leg to be sure and catch the Benfica player from pursuing. Likely HOPING for the referee to see it as a coming together 50/50
However most definitely 100% clear tripping foul with all criteria of DOGSO in effect for a showing of the red card, resulting in a send off, taking Porto down a player with a Benfica DFK restart!

What is different in the 2nd incident, Video from 1:43 to 2:19, the one you are asking about, is the Porto defender makes a very similar slide tackle into the feet of the Benfica player only this time he actually knocks the ball away and it is -not- played by the Benfica player & this is very important, he kept his legs down and bent so as not to trip or purposefully prevent the Benfica player from pursuing the ball.

The fact there was no red card shown initially by the referee was the presence of another defender and the distance from goal . The referee's first instincts, in real match time, from his singular point or angle of view, saw this incident as a tripping foul breaking up a promising attack thus a DFK and a caution show a yellow card which would be correct, IF it was true!

VAR has a huge benefit in stop, start, slow, rewind to get a closer look perhaps thinking hmmm?, he got the ball and made every effort to avoid contact while performing a reasonable challenge. Noting the contact was more to do with the directional run of the Benfica player not being able to change quickly once the ball was played away to the left. Porto being down to 10 already while not a consideration if there was or was not a foul a caution might create another send off later so it is important that the referee get these calls correct.

VAR suggests, you best have another look. We think it is a fair challenge from our vantage point. Are you sure of yours? The referee wanting to consider the input, requests the review and upon seeing it unfold agrees that the tackle was indeed a decent fair attempt, ball was contacted first, just a coming tother of sorts and not a foul. Thus no caution is attached!

Just a great use of the VAR to get the right decision.
Egos set aside, get the call right as often as we can.
Great game, good officiating!

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