Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 19217

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/27/2008

RE: Competitive Under 13

Ben Citrin of Madison, Connecticut United States asks...


First, sorry about before. I realized that I had made the mistake, and I apologize. Now, here is my question. Team A has a very skilled player. Team B then puts tight coverage on him. Then, to start out one player fouls him. Then, another player fouls him. Finally, he gets fouled again. Would the third player to foul him then recieve a caution due to persistent infringement?

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

It certainly would be called for. After the second foul, Team B would be getting a very loud verbal warning from me as would the coach of Team B.

Read other questions answered by Referee Keith Contarino

View Referee Keith Contarino profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

First off you have no reason to apologise but I like the fact you were not deterred by the initial harsh responses. Too many posters have fragile dispositions and are in my opinion too easily offended. No one can referee without a backbone and a willingness to stand and deliver on their beliefs. If we are hitting with hammers instead of toothpicks it is generally because we think that is what is required. Could we be wrong? Perhaps? The honey catching flies thingy has been mentioned but we are educating and dissolving myths and fostering intelligent thought proving discussion as well as offending the sensibilities. The fact we can answer in character with how we feel and still be correct in law is why this site is in my opinion useful to the parents, coaches, player and the younger or inexperienced referees or referees who at least seek to upgrade or keep current who need to open the eyes a bit wider.

Your idea has merit, skilled players are often tactically signalled out for special treatment and a series of routine fouls by a rotation of opponents is indeed a form of persistent infringement or usb and certainly warrants a stoppage and a caution if so targeted.

I generally make it known to the captain at the second or third foul or perhaps fourth foul if I have been smart enough to recognise as a warning to desist . Team PI could be a tactical ploy or simply frustration of the poorer player being unable to take away the ball from a better player. I have seen skill versus brawn many times and the inability to tackle well is always a cause for concern as the unwell tackles do damage and the skilled players need protection.
I recall a select women's match where the best player was lying at my feet for the third time in a relatively short period of time in the first half. I called the opposing captain over leaned in close for a one way conversation
"This player your team has fouled at least 3 times in about 15 minutes by 3 different opponents to try and win a ball that was not in a winnable position. I do not want to see her on the ground again and there are likely consequences for whatever or whoever puts her there? Am I clear? Tapping my card in my pocket as I speak!.
I prefer to hope that I can recognize a pattern or unhealthy attitude and break this before a caution is regarded as the best way to solve it. That said three times is more than enough in some cases if it clear these are borderline reckless.
Good question keep then coming!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Remember there is no magic number for a persistent infringement call. It might be the first foul by one opponent and just the second on a player. It is a formidable tool in the referee's kit for the protection of players and the game, and is sadly underused. Usually PI will be the type of pattern you note, but not always. The referee can be very proactive when PI is building, and may be able to stop it without the caution, but keep courage to do it if the warning is ignored.

Read other questions answered by Referee Michelle Maloney

View Referee Michelle Maloney profile

Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Ah, persistent infringement. Perhaps one of the least used reasons for cautioning a perp, and that's probably because so many referees simply are not tuned in to understanding PI, watching for it, and dealing with perps. My colleagues offer good suggestions.

Classic examples of PI abound. In the 1982 World Cup match between Brazil and Argentina, Brazil committed something like 25 fouls. I'm not sure that's the number, but it was around that number. Of those, something like 15 or 16 were on Diego Maradona. Again, I'm not certain of the number, but you get the idea. He was the designated target that day.

Maradona was relentlessly hounded and hacked. Eventually he became so frustrated and angry at the treatment he was getting (seemingly without a lot of protection from the referee) that after one too many whacks at his legs he kicked an opponent in the chest and was sent off.

In the next World Cup's opening match (Cameroun vs Argentina) we saw the referee, Michel Vautrot of France, put the players on notice that they were not going to have a repeat of 1982. Vautrot sent off two of the Camerounian players. One was sent off in the last minute following a particularly nasty piece of "tag-team" fouling on Claudio Cannigia.

Cannigoa took the ball just outside his own penalty area and turned up field. An opponent tried to trip him near the center circle, but Cannigia hurdled the challenge and continued. A second opponent tried to chop him down as Cannigia ran past the center circle, but again Cannigia hurdled the nasty challenge. Finally, a third opponent approached and absolutely obliterated Cannigia with a challenge having no chance at the ball.

This was classic PI, and an example of PI wherein it was not one player committing many fouls but, rather, multiple players going after a single opponent.

So PI can be either. And the referee simply has to develop the ability to mentally track (count) one player fouling repeatedly or several players fouling in aggregate against one opponent. It's not easy keeping score in one's head, but it's in the skill set of the best referees.

Hope this helps.

Read other questions answered by Referee Gil Weber

View Referee Gil Weber profile

Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

One technique that works well for me, when I can keep it going throughout the game. (Try as I might, it's not easy to always remember to do every thing you're thinking about)

In Bob Evans and Ed Bellion's book, For The Good Of The Game, they discuss: After every foul you call (or advantage you give) consider every player who commits a foul, and every player who is getting fouled. Do this simply by saying to yourself the number and color of the player who did the fouling first, and the number and color of the player who got fouled. They say, over time you'll start to hear the same "# color combos" and then you just have to realize if they are doing the fouling or getting fouled. Based on that information, you should be able to figure out who gets booked.

I use this method as much as possible and it really does work. It just takes mental dicipline which is easy when you're not running your rear off. It's interesting too that when I read Collina's book he discusses how he used to practice concentrating. Considering he's the best we've seen in A LONG LONG TIME, perhaps he's on to something. The better a person is at concetrating and remembering the details of what's happening around them, then the better they could referee.

Read other questions answered by Referee Steve Montanino

View Referee Steve Montanino profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 19217
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.