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Question Number: 21210

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/27/2009

RE: Recreational Under 14

James Hull of Fort Worth, Texas Tarrant asks...

This past weekend I witnessed what I believe was unsportsmanlike conduct from an opposing team.

One of our players was hit in the ear with ball and was in extreme pain. The ref stopped the game and all but 3 players on the opposing team took a knee.

Is there a rule regarding what should be done when a player is injured or is this just me being sensitive to these players who did not appear concerned for the hurt player?

Thanks for your feedback.

Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

There is no 'unsportsmanlike conduct' in soccer/football. Only in 'grid iron football' will you find such terminology. There is Unsporting Behavior, under which an entire myriad of behaviors have been defined. This behavior in NOT among them. There is no rule, nor law to this affect.

Having kids 'take a knee' because their opponent is hurt is, in my humble opinion all show and no substance. It is an "easy route" coaching methodology to simply train players to just react, rather than teaching them how to show basic common courtesy without having to go the way of a herd of sheep. Instead of instilling self-discipline and common courtesy, coaches are teaching "pack mentality" at a very early age. If given the opportunity to excel, players are quite capable of showing concern for their fellow players (as in opponents too) by standing around huddled in a group or even over by the touchline getting water and quietly waiting. At the same time, players are equally capable of showing contempt and lack of concern while taking a knee. Just because these players don't take a knee, doesn't mean they don't care, or aren't concerned. How can a claim such as that really be made?

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I've seen comments that taking a knee was a symbolic gesture, adopting an attitude of bowing to a ruler or even kneeling in prayer. That's likely nonsense. The only benefit to taking a knee is that all the U-little rugrats don't crowd around the hurt player, making him feel even worse (and limiting access to help the player if he's truly injured.)

In cold and damp weather, taking a knee can be injurious as the leg muscles might cramp up. Better to keep loose on your feet, as long as you are respectful.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

The knee thing is a calming or keeping track of the wee ones as we rush about looking after the one or two injured. Seen it in rugby recently as well, Damn foolish if you ask me on a cold wet field better to hit the touchline for drinks and a talk or wraps to keep warm. When a player is injured let those capable of dealing with it get there without issue and avoid further escalation of incidents in terms of possible retribution by others! USB behaviour can only be looked at in reality if those erect stated talking trash about the downed player or poking insults!

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

There's no requirement that any player take a knee when another player is injured. In fact, as my colleagues rightly point out, sometimes taking a knee is not a smart idea. But that's not what you're really asking. What you are asking is, is their any requirement that the opponents give a darn about an injured player and the answer is no. The only time unsporting behavior would be considered would be if they were taunting or making fun of an injured player. To me, that would cross the line, but to merely be indifferent, while distasteful, is not an offense.

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