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Question Number: 22817

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/13/2010

RE: Grade 7, Adult Adult

James Long of Dayton, Oh USA asks...

I am unclear of an exact definition of misconduct in Law 12. If a foul is By a Player, against an opponent or opposing team, on the field of play, while the ball is in play, is misconduct all other innapropriate action?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Long
This what the ATR say which IMO is pretty clear
Ten offenses are described in Law 12 for which, if play is stopped as a result, the restart is a direct free kick (or a penalty kick if committed by a team within its own penalty area). These offenses are referred to as direct free kick fouls. They are divided into two groups:
1. Seven actions (kick, trip, jump at, charge, strike, push, or tackle, including the attempt to kick, trip, or strike) for which the referee must evaluate how the act was committed; and
2. Three actions (holding, spitting, deliberately handling the ball) for which the referee need only decide if the act occurred.
Referees should not punish actions that are accidental or inadvertent. In the case of the first group, the action becomes an offense only if the referee decides that it was committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force. In the case of the second group, the action alone is an offense, no matter how it was committed.
'Careless' indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play.
'Reckless' means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.
'Involving excessive force' means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed the opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.
If the foul was careless, simply a miscalculation of strength or a stretch of judgment by the player who committed it, then it is a normal foul, requiring only a direct free kick (and possibly a stern talking-to).
If the foul was reckless, clearly outside the norm for fair play, then the referee must award the direct free kick and also caution the player for unsporting behavior, showing the yellow card. If the foul
involved the use of excessive force, totally beyond the bounds of normal play, then the referee must send off the player for serious foul play or violent conduct, show the red card, and award the direct free kick to the opposing team.''

The referee should educate himself as to what careless, reckless and excessive force means. That usually involves looking at decisions by senior referees, looking at USSF training material on its website plus attending local training course.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I certainly hope Grade 7 is your grade in school, not your referee grade. Anyone beyond the beginner stage of reffing should know the difference between fouls and misconduct.

There are 14 forms of misconduct listed in Law 12 - 7 cautions and 7 sendoffs. Some of these may involve a foul, others cannot. For example dissent is a caution, but not a foul.

There are also a number of fouls listed in the Laws. Some of these may also be misconduct, for example spitting at an opponent. However if one of these foul actions occurs outside one of the parameters you list - on the field, by a player, against an opponent, while the ball is in play - this action is no longer a foul but is purely misconduct. Take spitting as an example again. If a substitute spits at an opponent, or a player spits at the referee, or a player spits at an opponent while the ball is not in play, it is not a foul. But it is still misconduct.

The restart for misconduct only is usually different than if the action had also been a foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

If play is stopped for the incident:

Direct free kick offense + reckless or excessive force = DFK or PK restart with a caution or sending off or...

Direct free kick offense of deliberately handling or holding + misconduct such as tactical reasons for the offense = DFK or PK restart with caution or sending off.

Direct free kick offense of spitting is also misconduct of spitting = DFK or PK restart and a sending off.

Indirect free kick offense + misconduct = IDFK restart with either a caution or sending off.

Misconduct only -> no other direct or indirect free kick offense = IDFK restart with either a caution or a sending off. Examples: Spitting at the referee = sending off and IDFK restart. Dissent = IDFK restart after caution.

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

There are three criteria that must be met for an action to be deemed a foul - obviously beyond triggering action of the 10 DFK and 8 IFK listed offenses:
1. On the field
2. Ball in play
3. By a player
(4. Against and opponent or opposing team.) - FIFA doesn't use this in their matrix, but we commonly teach it in the USA.

Misconduct is different in that it may be committed:
1. Any where on or around the immediate vicinity of the field of play.
2. Before, during, or after the game.
3. Ball in or out of play.
4. By a player, substitute, or substituted player
5. Against any person

All fouls may rise to the level of misconduct in some way.

Misconduct in itself is never a foul.

The basic concept to remember is that fouls are called to punish a team for doing things that have a direct impact on the active game.

Misconduct is punished for doing things that have an indirect impact on the larger proceedings of a game, but do not directly impact play in and of itself.

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