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Question Number: 26810

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/21/2012

RE: Select/Competitive Under 13

Steve Goldberg of Cupertino, CA USA asks...

I was the CR in a competitive U12 boys game.

Game completely under control but intense as score is tied.

Late in second half ball was play deep in White's zone to left of goal (in corner). Blue, attacking, and White, defending, both addressing ball (50-50)and both fall from contact (no foul).

White was able to recover a split second faster than Blue and got to the ball. Blue was still laying prone on the ground (not hurt) about to get up. White player with ball (about 3 feet from Blue). White
player looks directly at Blue player and took an extremely big 'wind up' with his kicking leg and kicks ball with extreme force directly in to Blue players face(directly into eye). I was also only a few yards from the play...i.e. right on it.

Play was stopped and injured player was attended to on field. Injured player was ultimately(after 5 minutes)able to resume play. I issued a Red Card for SFP against White player.

My reasoning was that offensive (Blue) player (through no fault of his own)was helplessly on ground, and there was plenty of time for the White player to take one extra touch to clear the ball (which he did NOT do), kick the ball out of bounds, chip the ball over the offensive player, etc. The violent nature of the kick, directly into the face of the Blue player, in my mind, constituted Serious Foul Play (violently reckless with excessive force). I also saw 'disproportionate and unnecessary strength' used by White during the play in question.

What considerations should be made here? Is any playing of the ball allowable while the ball is in play? I did not see obvious aggression but couldn't read the player's mind.

Any advice, suggestion for the future, alternate interpretation of the Laws?

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Steve,

Sounds like you've made a good decision. While penalising a player for kicking the ball against an opponent while in play is something rarely seen, it is something that the laws allow us to take action against.

When the intent is clearly to strike or kick an opponent, why should they be allowed to do so simply because they've used the ball, rather than a fist or leg?

As you said, the white player looked directly at the blue player as he was doing so - which tells you that it was a deliberate action to kick the ball at the player. As you said it was done at close range, with force, and to the player's face. All of those things add up to tell me that a red card for SFP is absolutely the correct decision - and the correct restart is a direct free kick.

You've made all the correct considerations here. As it's clear what he wanted to do you can't really give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
The referee has to go here with his intuition as to whether the player kicking the ball did so with the sole intent of using excessive force against an opponent or whether it was just part of play. The referee also has to take signals from the circumstances to assist with the interpretation of what happened and the intentions of the player.
If the kick of the ball was in an unusual direction such as away from goal or the direction of play one would expect then the referee must ask why. For instance if a player is heading towards goal and he then kicks the ball in the opposite direction say at someone deliberately with no playing reason then one would have to assume it was directed at the player. If however the kick was at goal as one would expect then it is likely to be part of play. The reaction afterwards would also be an important signal for the referee. The player on deliberate VC act will show tell tale signs of aggression. I would also like to think that an u12 may not have the presence of mind to use the ball in play for violent conduct but who knows
You might have seen the flip throw incident on the web where a player gets slammed in the face with the ball at a throw in.
I have read many interpretations of that by referees and I believe it was an accident from a poorly executed throw in. However some could see it as a deliberate act in the same way as you interpreted the kick of the ball at the opponent. The only person that really knows is the player and he did show concern for the opponent immediately afterwards. The context here was not unusual in that the direction of the throw was correct and the flip throw has the propensity to go wrong. So the referee decided that it was an accident and another throw in was awarded. That is his call to make. Put in a regular throw with the throw not in the direction of play or team mates with no concern for the opponent and then the situation changes. Add into the mix some 'history' in the game between the players and it is then violent conduct.
I might add that the injury, treatment or what happens in the period afterwards should not influence the referee. Coaches, physios, players can all give their opinion as to what happened and the referee can also start doubting what he saw and feeling 'sorry' for the injured player because of the injury.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

In my opinion, the incident you described is more correctly violent conduct than SFP. Why? Because SFP assumes there are two opponents challenging for a ball, and one of them steps over the line on the challenge. In this case, the Blue player is on the ground, not challenging for the ball, so the behavior of the white player can only be considered VC. Your choice to send off the player appears dead on.

Why does it matter, since they are both sending off offenses? Because VC may carry more severe consequences as far as punishment goes. A player with a send off for SFP may only receive a one game suspension, whereas a player who gets a VC card may get two or more game suspensions plus a possible fine, or more.

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