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Question Number: 22472

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/9/2009

RE: College

Ron Hansen of San Jose, CA USA asks...

The video of selected highlights of the Women's College soccer game between BYU v. New Mexico is outraging the nation.

Do you feel that this video reflects infractions of the laws of the game? Do you feel that the game referee made the correct calls?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

We also are perplexed. Please see Q#22467.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

The young women Elizabeth Lambert (E.L.) has created a firestorm of controversy for her rash tackles and dangerous actions. No referee, coach, player or fan could justify the actions taken by E.L. they are simply inexcusable. Yet the real issue is the ENTIRE big picture of the match. Why was the camera so able to track this player?
The conduct of E.L. as deplorable as it was apparently was not in isolation. Conduct from the stands between the fans and some of the on field players was in many cases obscene in nature, the interplay of the players on the field for the constant cheap shots and comments on or off the ball were apparently epidemic in nature, the non correcting actions of school officials and coaches so caught up in the need for a result no effort on their part to stop the mayhem! In as much as the code of conduct for officials to not comment on the matches of other referees the grace by which my colleague uses the word perplexed and the original poster of a similar question used bewildered are as polite a comment the match officials are going to receive from me!

This is strictly my opinion and has no basis other than what I feel but the problem with select play at the state or national levels is the constant interference of the political posers that control the sport telling the officials how to referee the matches. If the interpretive powers of the referee, ARs and 4th official in charge of that match are not permitted to apply the laws for fear of not receiving further matches or are under pressure to do certain things in a certain way the game is compromised and the results tainted!

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The only 'good' thing about the video is it is forcing everyone to think about little and bigs things that have gone awry.

The video displays nasty retaliation, and (on closer inspection) more subtle forms of misconduct. (Watch what happened to #15's shorts just before she violently yanked her opponent's pony tail.) Referees must find ways in less covered areas to catch what is happening off the ball. We must find ways to improve the communication among the referee team so that we make better judgments on what is happening near the ball. Those who think that 'it's only a women's match' have seen consequences of of not understanding the women's game and how players respond (just as violently as men, but often better planned). We have to prepare for the challenges presented in the collegiate game: it is faster and more physical. Conferences may care how referees are assigned. Coaches might recognize there are consequences to blacklisting referees who make calls they don't like. Conference tournaments (like World Cups) may be more effective if the referee teams have worked together during the season.

The game may be a metaphor for improving collegiate soccer.
Or it may just be a story about a 20 year old who got mad.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Her actions are absolutely indefensible. I don't know how she was or was not punished but she should have been gone. I used to work lots of U19 Select and Rec girls games and I agree their retaliation and fouls are usually better planned and harder to catch but referees and the ARs have to be more observant

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

This is a situation which has such a complex dynamic to it that it is almost impossible to know where to begin. Infractions of the LOTG? Well, DUH!! You bet!! Did the referee team make the right calls? Not being there and/or seeing the game in its entirety makes this question almost impossible to answer. However, as can be seen on the videos there are challenges which in and of themselves warranted either a caution or a sending off even when considered as singular events. Consider also that playoffs are a somewhat different beast in that you want to be able to let the teams 'decide the true winner' on the field without you, as the referee making an error which determines the outcome of the match inappropriately. However, it is also our charge to ensure a safe and fair match for all involved and it would certainly seem valid to ask the question of why the referee team did not take more stringent actions sooner. What impacts our decisions? Well, others here have advocated that the "political hierarchy" might be imposing their will into the referee's approach to the match thereby influencing the nature of the calls and hence the manner in which the game is called. Have I seen this done before? Yes indeed. But can we say with a certainty that it occurred in this case? Not without more definitive information. Without a doubt the controversy created by these video segments has brought soccer, and women's soccer most certainly, into the limelight in terms of what is allowed and/or not allowed in a match. Moving beyond the referee team, however, I would offer this question: "What about the coach? Where was he/she during all of this and why did he/she not intervene?" The coach knew what was going on ? make no mistake ? and to allow it to continue was by his/her acquiescence approving, authorizing, and empowering the player to continue with the style of play and behavior which was being exhibited. So here we have a very complicated event wherein many different people and/or organizations could be held culpable. The actions of the player involved (#15) were most certainly reprehensible but should we hold only this player accountable? I think not. It is my opinion that the coaching staff should be thoroughly investigated and, in my opinion, also disciplined even more strongly than was this player. And why would I say this? Because ultimately it is the coach who determines not only the style, level and intensity of play but also the level of "cheating" that they will accept from their team and the individual players. In my opinion, the coach is truly the one responsible for the behavior of this player and having allowed the physicality of play to reach the level that it did. The performance of the entire refereeing team is a different matter and one that is, more than likely, being addressed by those who were either present or have watched the game in its entirety via video. Accordingly, they are much more capable of determining specific aspects of performance be they good or bad.

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