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Question Number: 22712

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/10/2010

RE: Club Under 14

Lyndsie of Lorain, Ohio US asks...

A player shoots the ball and the goalkeeper deflects it in the other direction. Another player from the same team as the shooter goes in for a rebounded shot and slides in and gets the ball. The defender falls to the ground and the attacker shoots as the ref blows the whistle. He awards the defending team a free kick. later in the game, the said teams coach apologizes to the shooting player as he thought that was a bad call. What is right?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Lyndsie
Referees make many decisions in games, many of which are a matter of opinion such as a foul, direction of a restart etc. In this case the referee decided that the attacker fouled the defender in tackling for the ball before he subsequently shot at goal. That is the decision of the referee and the game restarted with a direct free kick. That is part of the game. The fact that an opposing coach subsequently says that it was not a foul is only a matter of opinion. Yes it can be a mistake but the game restarts and play continues. Everyone makes mistakes including referees. That has been part of the game since it began and it always will be.
One of the top referees in Europe said this recently and I quote
'I've looked at the decision again and I think it was a mistake but we make these decisions honestly. 'I'm disappointed as I always strive for perfection. I'll look at the tape in detail later in the week and try to avoid it happening again in the future.'
'But show me a man who's never made a mistake and I'll show you a man who's done nothing.'

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I always find it peculiar that coaches think they have a better view of play than the referee. If the technical area offered the best view of play, wouldn't the referee stand there instead of moving around the field and keeping relatively close to play?

There are a number of possible reasons why a free kick may have been awarded - the referee may have seen the attacker kick the defender or trip him as part of the process of getting the ball (even getting the ball first doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a foul). The referee may have thought the player was playing in a dangerous manner (which would result in an indirect free kick, signalled by the referee raising his arm until the ball, after being kicked, either goes out or touches a 2nd player). He may have thought the tackle was careless (you don't necessarily have to touch an opponent to have foulled him). The referee may even have seen something that happened a few moments beforehand - just a few possibilities.

Remember - the referees are trained and practiced in foul recognition. Trust me, it's far easier to 'decide' what's a foul and what isn't when your decision doesn't actually carry any weight. The moment you move from coach/player/spectator mode into referee mode, there's a stack of things to consider with each challenge - without being elitist, referees usually do understand what constitutes a foul better than players, coaches and spectators simply because of this practice, training, and an understanding of what it will mean for the game to penalise one incident, or not penalise another.

From your description I can't possibly say whether a foul was committed or not, but let's remember that the referee probably had a better view of the incident than you or your coach accompanied with his experience and understanding of not only the laws of the game, but the various written and unwritten methods of interpreting and applying them.

You'd be surprised at how much difference having a good or poor view can make. Even if you think you've got a good view of something, you still may not have an idea of what happened.

Hence, if the referee appears to make a surprising call, it's always good to consider the possibility that as good as your view was, the referee's may have been better and he just may have spotted something you couldn't!

Or yes, perhaps he did make a mistake - but while referees are still human this will always happen.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

I often point out that a match is viewed or seen by those watching and participating from the perspective of the *needs* of each!
A player sees what he feels.
A coach sees what he wants to see!
A parent or fan sees what they think they see!
A referee sees what he sees!
As a neutral party the referee obligations to the players are observing their interactions to ensure fair play, settle disputes and ensure the safety of the players so the match can continue. A referee with integrity makes decisions based on what he knows, on what he sees, from where he is, at the moment it occurs! Referees, ARs and 4th'/officials are not perfect but in theory are the ONLY participants in the match who have no agenda for an outcome except a safe one! Who wins or loses is not a condition they cater to or worry about.

I find it amusingly ironic as a former coach that coaches think their view from the touchline is so much better than a referee on the field whose JOB it is to follow play and make decisions not just want the decisions! Granted who is far away and who is closer to a specific incident does play a role in how the incident might be viewed but by far the angle of view is the critical component for a good line of sight. The referee is more often than not in better positions, certainly not always and on occasion their opinion could prove to be incorrect, however, someone must decide FAIR or FOUL! There will be decisions where those in attendance simply have to agree to disagree and leave it at that. If there is a MISAPPLICATION of LAW then protests could certainly be lodged but as an opinion on a fact of play, such power must remain with the one person designated as a neutral party (not always a perfectly correct party)!

When observing referees, if they appear to miss calls, or do poorly (from an outsider's opinion) record the actions, submit them to the pertinent authorities. No doubt some observations will be biased and sour grapes but many capable coaches are fully aware of the capabilities or lack there of certain referees and ongoing monitoring, mentoring and training is where these issues can be fixed only if they are known about! Coaches who affix blame to the referee as the cause of misfortune are not always incorrect that the official may have erred or missed or got it outright wrong but then what player scores on every shot or completes every pass? Concepts like FAIR PLAY are mere words unless those who hold themselves accountable for their actions truly talk the talk and walk the walk, reinforcing the principles behind these words!


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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

Ugghhh. The equivalent of what that coach did would be something akin to a referee going to a player on the opponent's team and saying, 'I'm sorry you lost because your goal keeper couldn't do his job.' I realize that sound ridiculous, but it is of the same vein as what this coach did. Firstly, the coach truly has no idea of what happened. He's much too far away. Secondly, even if the coach did have some idea, it's solely his opinion. And the fact of the matter is that it is the referee's opinion which trumps them all.

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