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Question Number: 19668

Law 5 - The Referee 7/31/2008

Jake of sydney, australia asks...

A referee turns around to notice a fight with multiple players from each team, he only sees one player get punched. should he send off the player he saw, then speak to his AR about who else to dismiss? or should the referee first speak to his AR and then dismiss all offending players at once?

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Jake, you're going to consult with both assistants before taking action in this matter. Firstly because you didn't see the beginning of the festivities. Secondly, one of them might have. You do this to make sure everyone involved is disciplined appropriately and those not involved are not disciplined.

THEN you must ask yourself exactly what you did during the match to allow the players to think this was something you would ignore OR what exactly was it you missed that caused one player to consider taking discipline into his own hands.


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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Would suggest getting the situation under control first, and then dealing with the misconduct.

Since the referee happened to miss the altercation altogether until it was well underway, would recommend (insist on) getting the advice of both ARs ASAP. Without that, or even with that, the referee will need to rely on some psychological tactics and pressure to find out what happened and to right it as much as he can within the powers given to him.

This is a big hole to dig out of, but if the ARs were sharp, and the referee displays confidence and control, there might not be too much damage.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

In the donny brooks you need to have a clear picture of what went down. Your ARs and 4th and yourself should have indicators as to why this occurred but pregame instructions one goes to select areas once this occurs to record the events fron various angles of view. Be wary of intervention but whistle and presence if of no help stand back and take notes. Ensure all officials are clear have each other's back, eye contact and are in no danger. When or if the dust settles you compare notes talk and then proceed to do what is required. If the match can be calmed and a few send off or cautions can restore sufficent order then carry on. If it is a nut house abandon and record and report all the circumstances.

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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Greetings, Jake.

Every incident involving a fight, particularly if it involves several players (mass confrontation) requires the referee to observe carefully then act based on what he/she has seen and supplemented by information from helpful assistant referees. Though you are in OZ, here are two USSF documents you might find useful to help think through the process and achieve a successful outcome.

The first is the referee review discussion for Major League Soccer Week in Review #10. See it at:

Look about half way down for the 'Week 10 Commentary -- Mass Confrontation' and the illustration and videos that explain the commentary.

Within that document you'll see a link to a USSF position paper on mass confrontation. The very long URL to this position paper is:

In the end the key to a best-case resolution is to collect as much information as possible from the ARs (and 4th official if you have one) and then apply appropriate 'justice' to the perpetrator(s). If you can successfully talk to the players and calm them down to the point that you're confident the anger was a temporary flashpoint that will blow over, then maybe you can get out of it with just a caution(s) and without sending off anyone. On the other hand, you cannot fail to take out the trash if that is what's necessary and appropriate for those players, that game.

Hope this helps.
Gil Weber

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