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Question Number: 14107

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/12/2006

RE: IM Under 12

Patrick Trombly of Winthrop / Newton, MA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 14084

I can't believe what I'm reading. A girl with the ball might see two players defending her and feel intimidated??


Why is that unsportsmanlike? A defender trying to guard a big forward who has already scored feels intimidated. A goalie trying to stop a penalty kick feels intimidated. It's a SPORT. It's COMPETITIVE.

Why would it not be legal to double cover? I didn't see that one in the Laws of the Game.

It's a coverage scheme. The play WORKS, it is EFFECTIVE. In EVERY OTHER SPORT if your kids execute the game plan and the plan is effective, we think of that as positive. In baseball if there are two teams in the league at 8-1 and one waits on a lot of pitches and hits for extra bases and the other does a lot of bunting and hit-and-run, we consider them both a success.

For some reason, most self-styled soccer experts are so fixated on one style of play - the short game - that the results become secondary. I will never understand this. I like the short game too - but it's more effective if you have room to execute it, and if you intimidate with physical D, and start out playing the long-game, then the other squad will cover you more loosely and give you more room to dribble and make short passes. If you just dribble and short pass and don't mix it up you'll be wearing the defenders and they will frustrate you.

Why stick to a single style of play when you can mix a lot of different looks and tempos that complement each other and have more success?

You're right in one respect - Americans at this age don't have their dribbling and short-passing game down. But we're addicted to sports - many sports, and up here in Boston, football, a game that, at least the way our Patriots play it, is all about strategy. So cognitively the kids are as good at understanding tactics - especially defensive tactics - and seeing the whole field as they might be bad at a scissors-kick or step-over move. So we use our strengths to try to create situations where it is easier to execute the things we're weaker on. At the beginning of each half, we put a few shots on the net from 40 feet out - this draws the defenders out the next opportunity, when we chip it over their heads or cut one way and pass the other into the open space, and someone runs up and takes it to the net - - this strategy is from basketball but we use it successfully in soccer. I'm sure a European kid could dribble or short-pass past the defenders even if they hadn't been drawn out but what's the harm being cerebral IF IT GETS YOU TO THE SAME PLACE? Besides - we have three legitimate scoring threats from 40 feet out and the goaltender is usually not expecting it - - plus with a wet ball due to lousy weather toward the end of the fall season, a booted ball generally has a lot of spin on it and is a real bear to try to grab. We have the weapon - why not use it?

And the question wasn't about whether the rule was X or Y - - it was about a ref who was inconsistent, who just started calling free kicks every time we stole the ball, no matter how much contact or what it was, in a pretty transparent effort to keep a 7-2 game from becoming 11-2, which it did anyway.

I'm not sure why I bother - - this is a league where the coaches rate the players individually each year and the teams are picked with the goal of making them basically even. It can't be perfect but it should all other things being equal be close - which means if they're not close, all other things aren't equal. To be winning consistently and by large margins means you have an effective system in place.

I just don't equate physical with dirty.

And the Laws as written don't either.

And there's nothing "unsportsmanlike" or "unfair" about playing physical, even if it's a big kid outhustling a little kid - - - you don't tell the fast kids to run more slowly, you don't tell the highly coordinated kids not to cut one way and pass the other - players need to use the talents they have.

We've outscored the last two teams by a combined 18-4. We must be doing something right.

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Sorry, I don't understand your point. Is it that your side is stacked with better players, the referees are bad, you like other sports, or you just don't agree with someone trying to help out? You can double or even triple mark an opponent, fine but challenge one at a time or take the free kick against, unless both of your players are fairly charging. Intimidate all you want, but don't complain if the referee sees it for what it is defined as in Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game, unsporting behavior. It really makes no difference what we say because you seem to equate this Game, the World's Game, to the games Americans are more familiar with. You seem to repeat what ESPN and ABC television commentators said during the World Cup Finals last summer. I, for one, understand when they speak about the Laws of the Game and refereeing this Game they have absolutely no clue what they're talking about.

Oh well, do as you wish and hope you don't get a referee who knows The Game. Take your shots from inside the penalty area and hope they go in. Double and triple mark your opponents and don't worry about things like who is marking their other players because it makes no difference, you out score them 18-4 so they can't stop you.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Coach, I likewise am stumped. What are you referring to? You started your last question accusing us of falling into the trap of equating foul play and injuries, something none of us do. You then went on describing different techniques you teach your young ladies and we all agreed there was no way any of us could tell if these techniques were fair or foul without actually seeing them. I went on to state, and I stand by this 100%, that girls at your age and skill level do not have the skills to pull off slide tackles without being a danger to their opponents. Is it possible for a U12 player to execute a proper and legal slide tackle? Of course it is but it is more likely this player will not execute this properly and is a menace on the field. This does not mean any of us will whistle a slide tackle automatically nor does it mean if an opponent is injured during a fair tackle that we will whistle that. Apparently, judging by this question, you agree that players are not that skilled either. You then add another question into the mix, what you now call an "inconsistent" referee which, in your previous question you said he was consistently wrong and was unfair given you thought he was calling fouls on your girls just to keep the score down. Again, we all agreed that any referee that did this was way out of bounds and that in no case should a referee act like this. We have agreed with you on most of your generalized comments. We do NOT equate physical with dirty. We do NOT equate physical play with unsporting behavior. NONE of us have argued the merits of the "short" game versus the "long" game because NONE of us care what schemes you run, how much you score, or what your won/loss record is. What we DO care about is the fairness or unfairness of whatever methods are employed to carry out your schemes. And the ONLY way to do that is to see the play. What do you not understand about that? It is impossible to judge what you describe as fair or unfair without seeing it. What you are describing or questioning are Laws based on the opinion of the referee. You do not ask cut and dry questions such as what constitutes offside position. I think you must be getting some flack from opposing coaches. What you are doing is obviously successful if you base success on wins and losses, which you apparently do. You seem unable to accept that physical play CAN be unfair and foul play. You seem to denigrate anyone that disagrees with your mantra that success = wins. Many people in youth soccer do NOT equate success with wins. Some people are foolish enough to believe teaching team concepts and fair play are more important especially to youngsters, that playing the ultimate team sport, soccer, will make youngsters better persons, that winning isn't everything and that lopsided victories are often hollow due to a disparity of talent. And, the Laws most certainly WERE written with fair play in mind. Intimidating an opponent is NOT considered fair play. This is not football, baseball, basketball or hockey.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

I see a lot of content in your question, but no point. I will keep my response short. We as referees are to evaluate what we see. We cannot evaluate intent and we certainly cannot and should not adjust our refereeing based on the score of the game. If a bigger player rams a shorter player and the shorter player moves away from the ball as a result of the contact, I will most likely call the foul. On the other hand if a shorter player rams into a bigger player and the bigger player stays on the ball and continues to dribble it, there is no reason to call the foul as the bigger player has the ball. Again, we look at we we see and NOT what we think players are intending to do. If you referee in this perspective, your 1000 plus word babble is a mute issue.

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 14107
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 14149

See Question: 14151

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