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Question Number: 22788

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/1/2010

RE: Competive Adult

Mike Goodson of Milwaukee, WI USA asks...

Blue team has a free kick 25 meters from goal just off of the corner of the PA. At blue's request the red team's wall is moved back to the proper distance. During this process, a red defender and a blue attacker start hand checking, and positioning themselves in the opposite corner of the PA. The AR gets the CR's and players attention with a shout
that ends the positioning battle.

At the referee's whistle, the blue team kicks the ball, a single player from the red team's wall encroaches two steps, and is able to defect the kick. Simaltaneously, the blue attacker that was jostling for position moments before, elbows the red defender, who is tightly marking him, in the stomach. The CR is watching the goal area, and is able to spot the elbow clearly as it occurs.

The violent conduct is the more serious foul in this situation and must be dealt with, but should the restart be another free kick to blue? What would be the proper restart and cards issued in this situation?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Goodson
There are a number of factors to be taken into account on this one.
You state that it is violent conduct so that is a dismissal, a red card for the Blue attacker. I would also have to consider if the Red defender was guilty of any unsporting behaviour in the jostling and perhaps a caution might be appropriate as well.
The next decision the referee has to make is when did the incidents happen? Technically encroachment happens before the ball is in play and a retake would be the correct decision in law. The player that encroached may also have to be cautioned. However I don't believe that the retake is a good match control decision for the game and the Blues may not expect to get a retake when a player has been sent off for VC. If as you say they happened simultaneously then my decision might be to restart with a direct free kick from where the Blue Attacker committed the VC. That could be the 'best' decision as VC is a serious offence and when the ball is in play it should result in a DFK. In a match situation the focus of attention will be solely on the VC incident with probably other players getting involved in that area. There will be limited focus on the encroachment at two yards, probably only the referee saw it clearly along with perhaps the taker and it is easy to focus on the DFK from the spot where the VC happened. Also from a game control perspective the free kick to the defence gets the game restarted in a more open way with players moving back to their positions. That is an important consideration in what might be a heated situation.

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Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano

Referee Goodson

I agree 100% with Referee McHugh. This is a game critical moment. Your entire control of the remainder of this game may very well be determined by how you handle this case.

Violent conduct is in the opinion of the referee. Make certain you are not responding to the reaction in case the defender is "play-acting".

Given the jostling by those two players prior to the incident, I might reposition myself to be closer to them for the free kick. The CR should probably "add time" and jog over to those two players when the AR was yelling. It sounded to me like the CR looked over, glared and the jostling reduced. Being there is 80% of the battle. Let them know you care. Once they have to address the referee, they may forget about each other, if only for a moment.

As for the restart, it is a very tough sell to claim that the encroachment occurred before the jostling/elbowing incident. If you have to issue a caution or especially a dismissal to the attacker, then restart with a direct free kick for the defenders. Otherwise, you will just have more hot-blooded jostling and bad feelings if you try to restart with the original attacking free kick. This is a game critical moment, and how the referee manages this will determine a lot for player safety and enjoyment in the remainder of this game.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The wise referee doesn't believe in simultaneous offenses.
Something big just happened, and must be stamped out for the good of the game. Deal with the striking and prevent a brawl. In the context of this match and this rare situation, the other offense is trifling - - it made no difference to the match.

In other matches and other situations, the encroachment may never again be trifling and will justify a caution and retake of the kick. But, not today.

Now. let's discuss the textbook answer. Since the encroachment occurred when the ball was out of play, the referee's decision to stop play (and not the whistle) decides that everything else happened while the ball was out of play. Caution the red defender. Sendoff the blue attacker. Retake the free kick for blue.

We are not textbooks.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

Mike, there were basically two infractions: encroachment (or properly worded in the LOTG: failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in) and violent conduct (VC). Both actions should be sanctioned.
I reason that because the free kick was not taken properly and the advantage that a free kick is supposed to grant did not happen, therefore the kick is retaken. Now since it is retaken it is established that there was misconduct and the caution is issued.
The VC also must be addressed. It is very important that the player is dealt with and of course it a send off and shown a red card for VC.
As an aside, send the player off first to avoid retaliation and then caution for encroachment. Lastly, set up the retake.

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