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Question Number: 22804

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/8/2010

RE: Competitive High School

Myron Chwe of tuscaloosa, al usa asks...

Verbal distraction/deceit.

If an player yells at an opponent to distract him, or simulates being a teammate by calling for a 'drop', certainly that is USB.

Take, however, the circumstance of the trick corner kick: player A1 walks over to corner and places ball, then taps ball slightly while gesturing for his teammate A2 to come over. A2 jogs over to the corner, the more begrudgingly the better. Ball is in play, so A2 starts dribbling to the goal in attack.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with this sort of ruse. To me, however, when the players planning this add verbal deception ('I don't want to take it- you take it,' etc.), it opens the possibility of unsporting behavior.

The theatrics for this sort of thing seems to be on the rise, and I would love to know at what point you feel that verbal deception becomes unsporting in this circumstance. Thanks!!!

Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano

Referee Chwe

Given the across the board interpretation that for the ball to be in play from a free kick (including a corner kick) it must be Kicked and the ball must perceptively move. All of this is In the Opinion of the Referee.

As a referee I will allow talk among the team mates on the field. I will not tolerate any verbal distraction by a coach or a substitute, who I believe is trying or at least inadvertently is deceiving the opposing team in some manner by what they are saying. As for team mates, there is nothing to restrict team mates from talking to each other in foreign languages, pig-Latin or some sort of code.

One of the most effective legal deceptions I had the pleasure to watch as a referee, was in a high school game. Twice in the game, with a throw-in in the attacking half, an outside midfielder would race to pick up the ball, the big center midfielder would run over saying he had it, the team mate would set the ball on the ground and the center midfielder would pick up the ball and quickly take a Long throw-in. No time wastage. Perfectly fine and the defenders retreated to the PA to mark-up for the long-throw. However the Third time this occurred the outside midfielder executed a perfect throw-in to the center midfielder, who, unchallenged, settled the ball, and blasted a perfect shot into the top corner of the goal.

All of this was fair. The throw-ins were taken quickly with no wastage, and were all done legally. The opposition got lulled into a pattern, but here is nothing that says the pattern must continue.

That is an example of legal discussion among team mates that is fine. There is no Unsporting deception.

That is what we as referees look for: Does it seem to be Unsporting?

As for players, they must tune out the other team, mark-up consistently and always be alert to where the ball is and where the unmarked players are.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The players taking a corner kick should be permitted to use guile without having the referee interfere because the referee judges the action unsporting. (Ref Stagliano correctly identifies that no such rights are extended to team officials or substitutes.) Short corners are a part of the game, and defenses learn how to read them and be vigilant.

A problem with the trick plays, however, is that the players also may beguile the referee. The trick play is not rejected as unsporting, but as unseen. The team loses the ball on the called second touch violation.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Chwe
In recent times I have seen an increase in this ruse. This can cause problems for the referee in match control and I have had experience of this is in recent games. I was made aware that a team might use this in one game which I said was fine as long as it was clear that the ball was put into play and that no verbal deception would be used after the ball was put into play. When it happened I did not detect a noticeable kick of the ball into play even though I was looking for it. He may have tapped the ball on top. As a result I did not allow it and I went with the IDFK which caused a right rumpus. I have also noticed an increase in defending teams being tuned into this. That in itself causes problem as well because there can be debate about the ball being 'available' to be played by the defending team. On another ruse I was not sure the ball was put in play and the attacker when closed down by a defender moved the ball back into the quadrant with his foot to take the corner. Was it in play or not? He decided to take the corner but had he moved it out again would that have been legal?

As regards the verbal deception referees have differing views on this. Technically the test is whether the call/shout is to distract an opponent which unsporting behaviour and therefore cautionable. The referee also has to decide if the call/shout was made before the ball was put into play or afterwards. I have seen this twice at professional level and in both cases the referees asked for the CK to be taken again. I believe each referee has to use his judgement on these and to manage them as best he/she can given the match circumstances.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Here the referee or AR must make sure that the ball was kicked and actually moved. It is the responsibility of the defending team to observe the attacking team and if they see the ball placed in the corner arc and then an attacker kicks it, then they need to be aware of that. In my opinion, if the defending team is paying full attention, then they should realize this. As a referee, we just assure everything is being done according to the LOTG.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Excepting verbal tactics/interference from non-players, i.e. bench personnel, there is really no verbal deception which is unsporting in the circumstances outlined.

My advice would be to not go looking for trouble where none exists. As long as the ball is nudged with the foot and it moves visibly from here to there, it can be judged by the referee to have been kicked into play. It isn't the ref's job to compensate for inattentiveness by opponents, any more than it is the ref's job to interfere with communications between teammates (unless they are screaming obscenities at one another).

Or, as my colleagues have noted, if the referee isn't sure the ball was put into play, we either retake it, or award an IDFK to the defense if there was a second touch violation.

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