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Question Number: 18758

Mechanics 4/11/2008

RE: competive Adult

Jon Babylon of oakton, va us asks...

Thanks to all the refs who have answered my questions! This one is directed to those who have officiated a pro match: When I was playing in middle school no one "flopped" on the pitch. Then when I was playing on a select travel team in high school there was some "flopping" in order to get a PK. In college, it got worse. What is it like in a pro game for you guys? Do you see a lot of "flopping" and just ignore it, give a yellow card, or both? (Obviously, I can't tell from the stands or TV as well as you can....)

Answer provided by Referee Bob Evans

A technique that many referees used when we saw an obvious dive, was to laugh at the diver as we waved it off. But then FIFA got more serious about the simulation and elevated it from naughtiness to blatant cheating. Over the years, no matter how much fun it was for the smart referee, the response of a laugh was no longer enough to stop the diving in the games and so the caution was recommended in the professional game and the international.
The greatest difficulty comes when a player is fouled but then exaggerates the contact by flailing his arms and throwing his legs backwards, flopping to the ground. If you call it, the whole world is convinced you have been fooled. If you don't call it, you may have allowed a clever, significant foul to go unpunished. In those cases, my conscience did not allow me to ignore the foul, but once or twice I took the opportunity to caution the exaggerator and give him a right ballocking publicly about his behavior in an attempt to deter others. But the referee is caught between a rock and a hard place.
The best diver I ever saw was Rodney Marsh (ex-England international and Tampa Bay Rowdie), who at full speed could cross one foot behind the other and tumble down as though he had been clipped. If the referee was on the defender's side of the challenge, he could never see the details, and Rodney did not add any exaggeration to the fall, so the player would get away with it.



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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Jon, I'll let our more experienced refs answer your direct question. I just wonder what's wrong with your eyesight. Most of the fans seem to be able to see things much more clearly than I. That goes for the tv commentators on the pro games as well.

Which brings up a story, perhaps apocraphal. A coach had been grousing about missed offside calls. The referee goes over to the sideline and stands right next to the coach, but says nothing as play continues. Finally the coach can stand it no longer, and asks the ref what he thinks he's doing. Our intrepid hero replies, "I was right - you can't see offside worth a crap from here." No more complaints from the coach.



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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Jon, it's really not so different. A flop is a flop, and it should be penalized as such whether it's done in a middle school game or in a pro game.

What you will see is more sophistication in the flopping with increased skill level of the players. The pros can be a lot more convincing than kids, and that makes detection just that much harder. Also, the pro game is played at a much higher speed, so that makes detection harder.

Referees learn to watch for classic clues in the way players launch themselves into dives. Sometimes you can see it and sometimes the players are just so convincing that you fall for it. You learn; you apply; you do the best you can.

Every referee gets fooled on occasion. You just work hard to get the best possible view of play, and when you're convinced that the player has flopped then you simply must deal with it (caution and yellow card). Don't let it go by or you just encourage the player to do it again to you or to the next referee.

Stamp it out in your game and you lessen the chances it will happen afterwards.




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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

I'll give you my standard answer - it all depends. It depends on location, the player involved (has he already been a pain), the scoring that I would give the "flop" (the lower the score the more likely the card), and so on. For simulation inside the PA I am more likely to pull a card out straightaway. If there is contact and the player simply exagerrates the severity of the contact to try to get me to blow the whistle I'm fairly likely to just tell them to get up and don't try to "buy me" again. If the player uses the old "his own toe kicks his own heel to create the tripping foul" trick then I'm pulling out a card as I see that as a very blatant challenge of my authority and honor. The amount of simulating that I will see in a match also depends on a lot of things but the most critical factor is how I choose to deal with the FIRST event and communicate to the players my intolerance for the act. This does not require a card necessarily. Again, it depends on the tenor of the match. For example, when I was living in Salt Lake City I worked what was then called the D-3 league for which SLC had a team. There was a forward that was exagerrating the level of contact continuously. At one point he was going towards goal and swung out left towards me and then back into the penalty area along the goal line. Sensing that he was going to try to buy a PK I followed right on his heels into the PA and watched as a defender simply placed his hand on his shoulder in a manner typical of defenders marking strikers. Feeling the players hand on his should the striker immediately went to the ground. Easy call at this point. Whistle and card. Bang bang. End of issue and NOBODY complained. Not even the player. Presence and conviction resulted in no arguments or even discussion. Everyone knew. So there is no simple answer as to how to handle the situation as I believe the correct response depends on what you are presented with. HOWEVER, I do not think that ignoring it is an option. If you ignore it then the players start to think that you do not know what is going on. In some way I believe you need to let the players know that YOU know and that you expect it to stop. That communication can take different forms of which a couple of have been discussed. But I would highly suggest that you don't ignore it. All the best,



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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Unfortunately, the youngsters are learning from the pros. 10 years ago this wasn't an issue for me at the youth level. Now, I have U14 rec players diving. Fortunately, they are not very good at it but it was something I never had to even consider in the good old days.



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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

Professional players certainly have a tendency to fall in really opportune situations to be fouled. What I mean is that they are very aware of their situation, if they think that they can continue an attack with a reasonable degree of success they usually will, but if they think that there is no way they can maintain possession, you're likely to see a player go to ground if there is minor contact. There is not always a dive but pros really do know when to try to "buy" a foul, at least from a tactical and strategic standpoint.

Then of course there are your divers of the world and you've got to be on the look out for them. There are leg-breaking goons and they often try to balance things out a bit. If you see a guy taking dives, look at someone to hit them and make it worth 2 tackles instead of 1, just to make sure he "felt" the one he "earned" with a dive. So we have to be aware of both types of players.

Basically, deception is a large part of the pro game now. It's our job as refs to be aware of it and to get rid of it.



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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

My time on professional matches was extremely limited and I didn't notice diving, flopping or simulation. It just didn't happen or just flat out caught me. In matches below that level, "professional equivalent", top amateur, college and the like I was able to sort out the difference between foul play and diving. Before the caution was required I used to tell the player, after he was caught out diving, he needed a 9.0 or better on his dive for me to give the free kick. This is not at all unlike my esteemed colleagues. We each have our own way of dealing with what falls at our feet.

When seeing a player hit the floor because of an air pocket it's usually best to deal with it in the strongest way the situation allows. By this I mean, a quiet word to him after not interfering, LOUD words after not interfering or taking his name after stopping things. All of these ways of getting things done have their merits and when used incorrectly, their drawbacks. The whole idea is getting across the point swimming teams and Football sides shouldn't be intertwined. Each form of competition is grand on its own but when combined one will be the worse for it. The Football referee should not suffer fools lightly -- dealing with them makes life ever so pleasant.

Regards,



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