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Question Number: 22493

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/11/2009

RE: COmpetitive Under 12

Jacob Smythe of Cotati, Calif US asks...

A recent game the white team had the ball and a red player comes running in toward the player. She slips on the ground and takes out the white player with the ball. The crowd gives the groan we've heard at sooo many games. I'm still new and called a foul-although I think I shouldn't have, it has been bugging me since. My questions, should I have let play continue? My thought is it was just an accident-no foul. But aren't most fouls, trips etc, accidents? Assuming my reassessment of the original call is correct, how do we decide if an accident is worthy of a whistle? Lastly, in a similar situation would we ever blow the whistle as a form of game control-players not where I was might look for retaliation, (at least at an older age)?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Smythe
This is a foul as the Red player has been careless. The fact that she slipped IMO is not a reason/justification that a foul has not been committed. The White player has the ball and she has been tripped by her opponent who was careless in her challenge.
There will be the very odd occasion where players accidentally come together and both fall down with neither have committed a foul. That is indeed rare and its the only time I won't call a foul.
But as you say most fouls, trips happen because the player did not get the ball and contacted the player. The cynical foul is indeed rare where the player deliberately fouls, certainly at U12.
I'm not sure what you last point is but if there was a danger of retaliation or misbehaviour I would certainly use the whistle loudly, when play is stopped, to remind players that I'm watching and that I will take sanctions if there is violent conduct.
The whistle is your communication tool. You use it to communicate so players know that very loud, frequent blowing means that the referee is not happy and does not like the behaviour.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The red player did not take enough care to avoid slipping, which resulted in tripping the white player. That's a careless foul.

This is different from true accidents where players simply get tangled up due to both of them attempting to legally occupy the same space with their feet.

Regarding your last question, I'm having a hard time understanding the words too. If you are asking if you can stop play just to prevent a foul that might have happened had you not stopped, that's quite unwise. You can stop play to ward off mutual misconduct, or to warn players to cut it out. The restart in that case would be a dropped ball. See Advice to Referees:
The referee has the power to stop the match for any infringement of the Laws, to apply advantage under the appropriate conditions, or to decide that an infringement is trifling or doubtful and should not be called at all. However, the referee also has the power to stop play for other reasons, including misconduct for which the referee intends only to warn the player regarding behavior and not to issue a caution. In these circumstances, the referee should take care that ordering such a stoppage would not disadvantage the opposing team. As the stoppage will not have occurred for a foul or misconduct, play would be restarted with a dropped ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I'll disagree with my fellow panelists. Advice tells us NOT to punish accidents:

Referees should not punish actions that are accidental or inadvertent. In the case of the first group, the
action becomes an offense only if the referee decides that it was committed carelessly, recklessly, or
with excessive force. In the case of the second group, the action alone is an offense, no matter how it
was committed.
'Careless' indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play.

IMO a player slipping on a field has not been careless. How does one exercise 'due caution' when they inadvertently slip or trip and fall into an opponent?

This does not mean I'm right or wrong. It's up to the official on the field. You decided it was careless and called the foul which was the right call because you were there.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

Some good comments here. Ref Contarino brings up a good point about a 'slip' versus 'reckless'. What I would add at this point to already well covered information is to consider the potential of players using slippery field conditions as an EXCUSE for reckless behavior. The player who knows the field is slippery and takes the 5 yard slide into 'home plate' to make the challenge is doing so intentionally but you can bet your bottom dollar that he/she will get up 'blaming' the slippery field conditions. Players are responsible for understanding and being aware of field conditions and adjusting their play accordingly. If they fail to do so then the nature of their play becomes reckless when considered within the parameters of the conditions of the field. Said another way, if they know the field is slippery and do not make adjustments to the speed and/or nature of the challenges that they would make under 'normal' conditions then by virtue of their failure to adjust they have created a 'style of play' that is now reckless and/or careless. Sometimes this is difficult to differentiate but when in doubt I would suggest erring on the side of safety. If they aren't going to adjust on their own - make 'em. All the best,

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