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Question Number: 35553

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/31/2024

RE: Grassroots League Under 15

Stuart of Stirling, Scotland United Kingdom asks...

Is a goalkeeper allowed to shout at his defenders in order to organise the defence. My son has started picking up bookings in games for this whereas at start of the season he was able to alert his defence to threat without a booking. He is not using offensive language in any of his instructions, but as his team are not great at retaining control of the game he can be shouting instructions alot.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Stuart,
communicating on the FOP with team mates is not usually a cardable offence, whereas distraction from verbal yelling to fool or confuse the opposition COULD be a form of USB though?
So what is happening?

When you as a player go up for a ball in a crowd you might yell out, "Stuart's ball!" as a warning to your teammates hey guys I got this. You can even say, I got it or Mine, PROVIDED you are not deliberately trying to deceiving an opponent or in a situation where the opponent is also challenging directly . It is not so much what is said, as it is HOW and WHY where we might see fault. A keeper might yell "KEEPER" in the same fashion indicating they are there going for the ball as a warning to their teammates to not interfere . In rare cases I have seen cautions for a keeper yelling it, when he HAD no clear shot to get there and only yelled to distract the attacker.

Admittedly I once booked a young lady u-18 who began a prolonged harangue and screaming fit in frustration at her teammates as the opposition was just scoring at will, to the point both her teammates and the opposition players were all commenting for her to shut the $%#@ up. Her coach was mad at me for doing so saying she was was not doing anything wrong. I thought about it at length after! Even though at the time given the general feeling of the match it felt necessary, I could have simply told her "That's enough!" rather than show a yellow card for USB activity.

Verbal impeding is not a true foul more of an unsporting behaviour where you yell Ahrggggg into the ear of an opponent you might be chasing or challenging. Showed a yellow card often at youth when the bully crews often tried intimidation tactics on their opponents. I have also booked a defender for yelling his own name but he cupped his hands like a megaphone and screamed it into the ear of an opponent.

A Keeper who acts more like a sweeper in directing traffic is not uncommon, as they see the entirety of the FOP before them and can impart valuable information to their teammates on where they might have defending gaps! I would have to hear just what and how this info is being dispensed to offer a valid opinion as to why it might be condemned by the referee as an act of USB? It could be free of foul language but the tone or attitude could be perceived as taunting or bullying?

It might not seem fair given there seems to be no consistency from match to match that your son can marshal his forces as he wishes in one match but not the next. You mentioned he is not carded in all matches just some? So best to ask the referees of those matches the why of it? Perhaps they not see it as communication by your son but rather useless irritating chatter or even a form of dissent? Is it the same referee or different ones? A referee is a match condition just like the weather or pitch condition you need to adapt at times to be aware of limitations or idiosyncrasies that affect play.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stuart
Thanks for the question.

Referees are generally not in thé business of cautioning players for team mate communication. There has to be a reason for this and the best source of information is from the referees on the day.
Referees if approached in a respectful manner after the game can explain why something was done in a game. Even players during the game can ask a referee why they are being cautioned and referees generally oblige with an answer once it is done in a respectful manner. I have had plenty of players ask me what a caution was for and I tell the player it was for a reckless challenge, dissent or whatever. By informing the player it helps to change the conduct such as if it is for dissent I will advise the player that I don’t want to hear dissent from them again.

Now there is a side of me that believes that over the top shouting is not part of the game particularly if it omnipresent and annoying with little reasoning behind it. It can also be distracting to everyone in the game. Does the game need a shouting player at every single moment. I suspect that when you say your son is shouting a lot that it is just excessive and overdone.
While communication is vital we also play the game mainly with our feet so perhaps these referees have got tired of constant loud shouting that is questionable in its intent and reasoning.

Also as a referee at times I hear unsporting shouting and cloaked dissent. A player might shout to team mate *Good tackle there Joe.** after a foul has been awarded or **Keep going John. Your not going to get anything**
I also hear from time to time sledging between player. It might not involve offensive language yet gamesmanship aimed at disrupting opponents play.

A number of years ago I was doing a game and a winger was constantly shouting for the ball. At half time the assistant on that side was exasperated with the constant shouting that he asked me to caution the player to quieten him down in the 2nd half. He was more senior than me yet I told him I would not be doing that unless it was USB. I suspect the assistant if he was the referee would have booked the player and told him that he did not want to hear him again! The AR was constantly beside the player so it no doubt became irritating to the extreme whereas I was not as close and it was not in my space.

The final point I would make is that our opinions will count for little here particularly if referees in your area are taking action by way of cautioning for whatever they opine as cautionable. The only viable option is to limit the shouting to key moments and what would be expected as reasonable not excessive and overdone.

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