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Question Number: 22809

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/10/2010

RE: House , rec Under 15

Sean of Delta, BC CANADA asks...

Hi, during a physical match our forward was on a breakaway and red's defender initiated contact with an elbow to the back, elbow to the throat and shoved our forward off the ball. The players turned face to face and shoved each other. Unfortunately, our player raised a fist to 'push back' the defender (no contact) and was red carded(1st offense) by the ref. The foul occurred in the red teams 18 yd box and we were awarded a penalty kick. The ref was very good (no assistant)in controlling the game but admitted after the match that he did not see the entire incident. In speaking with our forward after the match, he admitted he was wrong (lost his cool), felt threatened by red's defender and promised to walk away next time. Our questions are: 1) should red's defender been given a yellow card? 2) would the raised fist be an offensive gesture (2 game suspension) or violent conduct (3-5 game suspension)3) can a member of the discipline committee be related to the ref. Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Tom Stagliano

Coach Sean

You raise some excellent points.

First, as you stated, the referee was working alone, seemed to control the game well, and admitted he did not have a full view of the incident (or at least he did not have the same view that you had).

The referee did recognize the foul and awarded the PK.

The referee did not see any elbowing, and may not have seen the initial shoving of each other by the two players. However the referee did see the 'cocked fist', and felt a dismissal was warranted for overall game control. Within the LOTG, the red card can be issued for abusive gestures or violent conduct. The LOTG do not stipulate any other penalty (other than the dismissal) and leave that up to the individual league.

However, the incident Must be reported in full by the referee in his game report, and that report should be filed with the league (and with any other administrators specified by your referee association) in a timely manner.

Given that all of that was done properly: the combination of the written report, the referee's answers to any questions posed to him by the discipline committee and any other evidence presented to the discipline committee will be used to make their final decision for game suspension. Since the actions of the referee are not being questioned, only the discipline for the player, whether anyone on the discipline committee is related to the referee should be inconsequential. In my opinion, from what you just described, I would not sequester myself from the discipline committee because the referee was related to me.

Hopefully your player has learned a valuable lesson, and turned this incident into an educational experience.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Coach Sean
The first incident the referee saw was the foul committed by the red defender. The referee stops play and awards a penalty. An elbow to the back and an elbow to the throat depending on the force used could certainly be a caution if seen by the referee and if in the opinion of the referee it endangered the safety of an opponent it could also be a red card for serious foul play. Factor in the pushing afterwards and a caution could certainly be justified.
Now the second incident was retaliation for the foul on the attacker. Play has been stopped and the player raised his fist to push back the defender. The clenched fist push will look like a strike which is violent conduct and a red card offence. The referee will write up his report outlining what he saw and in my opinion it will be cited as violent conduct. Certainly that how I would write it up from what you describe.
Finally I see no reason why a member of the disciplinary panel cannot be related to the referee. There is no conflict of interest as the referee's duty will have been completed by his furnishing of the match report and the referee is no longer involved in the matter. What sanction the panel takes against the player is a matter entirely for them and it is of limited concern to the referee. It might be an issue if the panel also deals with appeals and it sought further clarification from the referee where the referee's report was being questioned as to its accuracy or validity on appeal. The relation in that case should exlude himslef from any process that involved an interview with the referee.
Appeal panels though are usually made up of different individuals for obvious reasons and it should not arise.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Sean,

When I referee, I take a very dim view on players taking matter into their own hands - that is to say, retaliating.

When a player raises his fist to another, this is, naturally, a strong indication that he is about to throw a punch. Such an act is a threat of violence, and as such can certainly be considered violent conduct. I would have no problems sending off a player for raising a fist to another - though some referee may only caution for this (or possibly not even that. I've seen it all!).

Whether it's considered an offensive gesture or violent conduct depends how the referee will report it - I firmly believe it's violent conduct.

As to the defender, I can't really say with certainty from your description whether he should have been booked. It certainly sounds like a good possibility, but I can picture this scenario occurring in a number of different ways. So I simply can't give an accurate answer to that - it's going to come down to precisely what the ref saw and thought (you say he elbowed your player in the throat for instance, but perhaps the ref saw something different and didn't think he did, or though that bit was a complete accident as a result of the players jostling each other?), and how he'd read the intent of the player, the mood of the match and the manner in which the players are challenging, the force used, and so forth.

As to whether a member of the disciplinary committee can be related to the referee, that's going to come down to the regulations of your competition. I see no ethical dilemma, but if that member feels he is unable to be impartial he should remove himself from that case.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The player wants to plead guilty with an explanation. However, no foul justifies retaliation with violence.

It is important, however, that the referee convey to the players that the person who instigated the conflict is properly punished, and a caution is often the best way to send the message that this conduct is also unacceptable. Indeed, whenever possible, the referee is wise to caution the instigator first, and then send off the retaliator.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Coach, I'm confused. You say the referee did not see the entire incident. You say your player raised his fist and the referee saw that and sent him off. You also say your team was awarded a penalty kick. What you DON'T say is that the referee called a foul on the red player and stopped play. Did the referee see enough of the play to see the red player do any of the things you mention?
An elbow to the throat is going to result in a send off more often not. If he saw only a push, then this all makes sense.
Raising a fist is not an offensive gesture. An offensive gesture is one that is offensive or vulgar but not threatening. Raising a fist may be considered threatening to an opponent which could be construed as endangering the safety of an opponent. If the referee feels this to be so, he would send the player off for violent conduct and the foul would be attempting to strike an opponent. The referee could also caution for unsporting behavior or do nothing other than say something like "watch it!"

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