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Question Number: 20461

Law 5 - The Referee 11/7/2008

RE: Rec working towards Competive Under 19

Robert Baldwin of Wichita, KS USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 20403

While I understand that a ref must have the morale fiber to make the call, I too don't understand why so many calls are not made in what only can be seen as 'it was in the box' so they don't make the call. I see this in higher age groups as well as in competitive and pro. Is this due to a lack of back bone at the higher level, or because there is a fear of thier job for making the 'TOUGH' call?

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

You bring up an excellent point. It may indeed have to do with fear of future assignments. Perhaps our panelists that referee professional games can weigh in on this. I can only speak for my League and can tell you for a fact that assignments are not affected by calls inside the penalty area and there are local referees that only call deliberately handling the ball inside the penalty area while ignoring obvious pushes, charges and trips that should also be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

If you make a mistake that is obviously seen or perceived as a wrong call it costs you far more in if you fail to make a correct call! The fear of influencing an outcome creates this no blood, no foul sensation in the minds eye of many, be they players, watchers, coaches, or officials. It is easier to claim being blocked from seeing or having no opinion than to say I saw it but I was obviously wrong and my opinion was changed upon reflection.

Look at the WC call by the Argentinean referee Moranio in a world cup where the Italian player was cautioned for a dive! The referee who was up to that point being hailed as having a career defining game this ONE incident created such an impact it affected the REST of his career!

It really is an unforgiving atmosphere that these elite referees officiate under. And a blatant error such as 3 cautions to one player affect the respect and standing a UK referee has worked a LIFETIME to create.

Look at Esse the USA referee at his CORRECT call at the WC where he awarded a PK to Norway in the final minutes of the match that for 24 hours had the world at his throat ready to rip him apart, FIFA included. Only by the grace of God and a Scandinavian camera caught the one TRUE look of a BLATANT PK foul. The reversal of fortune and the fickle finger of fate are kind to some and not so to others. As long as we seek perfection and are disappointed in not getting it a scapegoat is only a whistle call away!
As a recreational referee thank god a camera does not follow or hang on my every whistle as I am sure there would be some photogenic shots that could undo my efforts at being as good as I thought I might be!

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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

The answer is really quite simple. At all levels of play and refereeing either you have the 'stones' to make the call or you don't (ladies included). The old USSF assessment forms had a category called 'courage, character, and consistency' and I always felt that this portion of the assessment form should have carried more weight than it did. For here was where the assessor could evaluate whether or not the referee had what it takes to make the tough call at the critical moment and uphold both his/her own integrity and that of the game.

Courage, character, and consistency were trademarks of referees such as Collina, Frisk, Castrilli, and Jack Taylor. High pressure game? Critical moment? No problem.

Want to know more about courage, character, and consistency? Read 'For the Good of the Game' by Evans and Bellion.

I was assessing in another state last weekend. The referee was trying to upgrade from 8 to 7 (the first formal assessment in the upgrade process in the US). He was doing an acceptable but not exceptional job in the under 19 boys' final of a tournament. The score was tied when, with four minutes remaining in the second overtime period, he whistled a foul resulting in a penalty kick.

Now he could have 'ducked' that foul and let the game time run out and go to KFTPM. He could have made all sorts of excuses for not blowing the whistle. But he saw the foul and had the courage to make the call in that critical **moment of truth** that everyone on both teams knew decided the tournament winner.

Rising to the occasion in his moment of truth told me that he had what it takes to advance to the next higher grade, and he passed the assessment.

You either have the stones or you don't.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

I would take issue with your statement: ' 'it was in the box' so they don't make the call.' What may look like a TOUGH call may have been nothing at all.

What looks like it must have been a foul on TV or from the stands often doesn't look like that at all down on the field. There is a huge difference between being 10 -15 feet from a play and 50 yards from a play with a not-so-great angle. Having watched hours and hours of footage of games, I can testify that a first look on TV/tape often gives one the wrong impression - and the replays happily demonstate our error.

Conversely, sometimes a referee makes a call that doesn't seem to make any sense until you get the right angle replay. Then it's a 'Duh! Anybody would've called that.'

In all fairness to the guys and gals out there in the big games, they are there and we are not. Second guessing them is fun, but rarely profitable. Are they wrong occasionally? Yep. And when they are, they usually pay a high price, so we can surmise they are wrong much less often than we ordinary referees are.

Still, as my colleagues have noted, there are times when you just know a referee couldn't call his courage out of hiding to do the right thing. Why that happens is between a referee and his conscience - and his assessor.

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