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Question Number: 22522

Mechanics 11/15/2009

RE: Premier Under 13

Joe Iano of Seattle, WA USA asks...

During halftime, AR2 (I was AR1) says to the center that he saw a holding foul in the penalty area and tried to make eye contact with the center to indicate he had seen a foul that would result in a PK if called. The center said he didn't see the foul and never noticed the AR's attempt at getting his attention.

Can you offer any advice as to pregame discussion and mechanics during the game to help with such a scenario? ARs are often instructed by the center to avoid calling PKs except in the most egregious cases. In the heat of the moment, relying on eye contact between officials seems to leave a lot to chance. An AR raising the flag seems to leave the center with little room for exercising his discretion. Are there other options?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Iano
Eye contact in these situations to convey a decision/opinion is impossible. At best all the AR can do with eye contact is see if the CR is well positioned to make the call on his own.
Now it all comes back to the pregame discussion. If the referee does not want ARs signalling for penalties then that is his decision and he lives with that. Assessors do not like that situation to arise. If the CR decides that he wants the ARs to signal for penalties then it is the raised flag and the AR runs down the line to the penalty position. Where the CR allows the ARs to flag for penalties and if he does not agree he can wave the flag down and simply allow play to continue. That is his discretion.
Many times as well ARs are not comfortable calling penalties so it works both ways. While it is not in the guidance books and it is frowned on by assessors, some older refs/ARs use a 'predetermined hand/arm signal'. This signal in the heat of the moment is not obvious to the teams but the ref when he looks across gets confirmation that a penalty should be awarded. It however does not work in the 'unseen' foul situation that is unless the ref has the AR in view. I know also that with buzzer flags that many assistants 'alert' the referee to a foul and it can confirm his decision. If he's not sure what the buzzer is for he may think it is inadvertent.
I believe though that the unseen deliberate handball should always be called by the AR and I don't mean the debatable ones but the clear movement of the hand to direct the ball away from a forward, blind side of the ref or indeed the other way.
I always allow assistant to call fouls and penalties as part of the team. I ask them though on penalties to be 100% and if I'm well positioned to allow me to deal with them. If I think the flag is 100% incorrect I will wave the flag down.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

If the ref misses the other AR's signal, it sometimes helps if you mirror the signal. That hardly applies in the penalty area, though.

If the referee tells his AR's not to call anything, they can smile to themselves as he messes up the game by himself. And then tell the assignor why you don't want to work with that center again.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

My pregame instruction is the for a foul that is not a penalty kick, the AR should believe I didn't see the foul and would have called it had I seen it. For penalties, I ask them to look at me. My face should indicate if I haven't a clue that a foul occurred. I ask them to flag it if (1) they KNOW I didn't see it, and (2) the KNOW I would have called it had I seen it.

Eye contact is very important. But, the AR needs to be able to flag the penalty kick foul that I missed and needs to be called. As you found, eye contact alone is insufficient.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

There is some great advice here from the other refs and worthy of consideration. For me, there are a couple of things that catch my attention about your question. First, it is a u-13 match which raises questions in my mind as to the experience level(s) of the officials. Second, if the only way the ref found out about the holding call is for the AR to bring it to his/her attention at halftime then I have to ask if anybody even noticed the holding and/or if anybody really even cared. Addressing the second item first - by this I mean that even though a 'hold' might have occurred did it really make a difference? Frankly, it has been my experience that if a player is being held (even at u-13) and having it done in such a way as to significantly affect the player's ability to play the ball (or whatever) then SOMEBODY is going to let the ref know and let them know quite bluntly, loudly, and in no uncertain terms. That this is not mentioned in your scenario is, in my opinion, significant. Now to the first item, the experience level of the officials with which I am working will help determine the exact nature, extent, and level of involvement that I will ask for during the course of the match. Nothing is more frustrating to players than for the calls to be so inconsistent that they have no idea what is going to be called a foul and what is not. Unless the AR can align their judgment to be similar to that of the referee on that match then the assistance I ask for regarding fouls will probably be minimized. That having been said, my pregame regarding fouls in the box will focus on the likelihood that I did NOT see what happened - I was either screened, had the wrong angle, or some other factor prohibited me from seeing the event. The steps I instruct for the AR to use are - if you see an event that you believe should result in a PK you are to LOOK AT ME. If you can see that I have a clear view of the event then it is MY call - sink or swim. If you determine that I was unable to see the event and you KNOW that it should result in a PK then you indicate with your flag for the foul and follow the recommended mechanics once I blow the whistle. We then move on to the method for administering the PK. Hopefully this gives you some useful information and/or some food for thought in your future matches. All the best,

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