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Question Number: 35189

Mechanics 10/29/2023

RE: Adult

Antonis Klidas of Athens, Greece asks...

One more general question on my side regarding 'second yellow cards'.

In several games, I note that referees may award the first yellow card 'easily', but the second yellow card for a 'similar' offense less easily, and I wonder whether you can explain to me whether this is a matter of rules, the approach of individual referees (some give yellow/red cards easier than others), the game (e.g., if the game goes out of control), other factors or all of the above.

If you need me to, I can provide specific examples.

Thank you again!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Antonis,
Thanks for the question.
Many cautions are at the discretion of the referee in that the Laws do not use MUST in the description of the situation,
Some are must cautions such as removing a shirt after scoring a goal whereas other situations are at the discretion of the referee.

Many times referee try to keep all 22 players on the field of play so some situations can be dealt with as a verbal warning rather than a caution. I can assure you that if referees enforced the caution sanction to the full extent many games would not get finished due to multiple red cards for two cautions.
So like in all walks of life not all referees are alike and bring their own perspective to games.
I always tried to bring common sense to the game and many times I gave players the benefit of doubt about a second caution dismissal.
I have seen referees not make it to a FIFA badge level because they exercised discretion on certain matters such as 2nd caution decisions.
I saw a referee send off a player recently for a second caution after the player said that it was justice that a penalty for handling was missed. It was in the 92 minute with two minutes left! Did the game need a 2nd caution for dissent.
In the EPL game between Liverpool and Aston Villa the referee sent off a Villa player for two cautions. In the 2nd half there was a foul by a Liverpool player who was on a caution and it certainly looked like an arm to stop a promising attack. The referee chose not to issue a 2nd caution which upset Villa. Liverpool a few minutes later took off the player which probably confirmed that Liverpool felt that they were lucky not to be down to 10 players as well.

So there are countless examples out there and only referees on the day can advise why a certain decision was made.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Antonis,
Of the things you mention, I would say the reasons are more likely to lie in your second and third options. So basically, the approach of individual referees - and factors related to match control. It is certainly not anything that is laid down in the Laws of the Game. There is no difference between the criteria laid down for a caution based on it being the first or second potentially cautionable offence.

However this phenomenon is something I've noticed myself. I quite often see an offence that if the player was not already on a yellow, would most probably have been a caution. Sometimes, the second offence can even seem to be more egregious than the one the player already received a caution for. Although this may seem slightly illogical, it's probably just a facet of modern refereeing practices, especially at the top level. Rightly or wrongly, there is a perception that referees in higher level competitions feel under pressure to keep all 22 players on the pitch, and I don't think that perception is entirely misplaced.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Antonis,
If you recall the Esse video I tagged earlier you notice in his explanation he said and I quote
"I do not give a penalty for a small push or shove in the 89th minute! I have to be sure it is a good penalty"

Now you and I can debate the merits of overall game management. I know we are generally NOT looking for ways to affect the match. That said I have seen, in my not so humble opinion, some serious blunders, both ways, in awarding sanctions or in not awarding them.

The Beckham leg raise where the Argentinian wiener baby dived to the ground like a 2 year old and screamed as if he been felled by an axe. The referee showed the red card to Beckham putting England down a player COMPLETELY destroyed what was shaping up as one of the best matches of the tournament. Now I do not question the retaliation by Beckham was NOT a smart move but he was just hammered to the ground FROM behind by a reckless challenge by the same Argentinian dude who flopped like a jelly fish when Beckham bent his leg up, lying on his stomach.

While I suspect the orders from above the idiotic micro management by those not playing, created the referee mindset he MUST send him off for VC as play was whistled dead, it was a STUPID and SENSLESS decision. Show a yellow card caution for the USB response was sufficient to send the appropriate message. IF the marching orders was a direct edict from FIFA HQ that ALL retaliation, no matter the severity or reason was to be RED CARDED then there was reasonable evidence to show the Argentinian two cautions, one for the tackle that smashed Beck to the ground & the other for simulation. The smug creep even admitted he did it to get Beckham sent off.

It is not that the game can be played without some controversy. Whether a referee makes an error in judgment or misses a foul, players miss shots and make terrible decisions in tactical exploitation or defensive miscues the games are still concluded!

The use of VAR now makes a HUGE difference in how referees are assisted to make better, informed decisions with greater knowledge. It is obvious to prevent the disallowed goals for balls well over the goal line under the crossbar and between the posts that went uncounted . Poor offside decisions, taking away good goals. Maradona's hand of GOD goal and other handling issues. The 2010 South African WC foot plant into the chest of the Spanish player by the Dutch defender. The 3 yellow cards, Referee Graham Poll showed to the same player in Croatian versus Australia match? The Var could have ensured it was only 2 stopping a career ending blunder where he might have gotten to the final WC. The German keeper's knee into the head of the Argentinian, back in 2014 Brazil WC final ? Not only an incorrect restart, no card at all?

If we are losing control or having management issues and wish to call it tighter to try and calm things you might award game management control fouls in the middle of the park where we would not in the PA. Yet if we miss the mark and use soft cautions and miss direct red card but caution instead it sets up problems.

Do you recall the Russian referee Valentin Ivanov issued a FIFA World Cup record four red cards and 16 yellow cards, setting a new record for cards shown at any FIFA-administered international tournament which has been surpassed recently, when Antonio Mateu Lahoz issued a total of 18 yellows (17 for players/managers plus another for a member of coaching staff) during the quarter-final match between the Netherlands and Argentina, interesting the Dutch were involved again?

Anyway the one I refer to is the Battle of Nuremberg played in the round of 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup between Portugal and the Netherlands. The first caution was weak, a pulling along the touchline, the foul on Ronaldo was a horrific studs tackle at 7 minutes and WAS in my opinion a direct red but only a caution. Ronaldo was replaced as he COULD not continue! That same Dutch defender was cautioned again in about the 68 minute to be shown the red card but needed to be gone at the 7 minute mark. Again it was the intervention of those NOT playing, trying to micromanage their referees on the pitch, it had been FIFA's demand for referees to be tough on the players.

As my colleagues noted each referee brings something of themselves, a unique perspective of knowledge understanding and wisdom even as we diligently seek to guide a match on commonality and fair play so you can expect certain things to be called a certain way. We strive for consistency, however, there will always be ITOOTR (in the opinion of the referee)

At the grass roots, safety, go home to family and work. The pressure is less daunting and perhaps the excuses or rational to do or not do certain things reflects the character and integrity of the referee holding the whistle.

The criticism leveled at the elite level is harsh at times because the outcomes are life changing for some. There is room for that late first foul to be orange red and cautioned rather than a send off on the red sleigh if there was no massive lead up to that point where it could be necessary to do so, If players show disrespect and a crappy attitude, when I officiate, getting the benefit of any doubt just got tougher for that player. Yet in trying to be fair to the teams, being irked at an idiot can take a lot of self control to not over react but react appropriately as a neutral party.

At the elite level fans are there to see stars not the referee. I recall Ed telling us the story where the star player was simply cursing and dissenting in a quiet smiling way trying to get a reaction then point and say look at the crazy referee! Ed did not want to send him off in front of 100 000 screaming fans. He might not get out of the stadium alive. lol

To say a foul ls a foul no matter where or when it occurs is rather simplistic because circumstances and conditions to effectively determine fair from unreasonable and reasonable to unfair are nuanced decisions as well as straight forward ones. . The use of warnings our words, body language, verbal inflection, eye contact all play a part in the I am dead serious or you are on thin ice remarks. Cards are a tool, to SET a bar of acceptable conduct or behaviour, more than punishment. Do not use a sledge when a tack hammer will do.

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