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Question Number: 27104

Law 5 - The Referee 1/11/2013

RE: competitive Under 13

robert of Jacksonville, Fl Duval asks...

I hope this is an appropriate question. Advice to Referees, 19.7: 'Remember that male and female players use their arms diffrently. Females, due to differences in center of gravity stemming from their different construction, Raise their arms in large part to allow them to use their lower centers of gravity.....Referees should keep in mind the different ways men and women move into challenges when assessing arm position...' I'm curious on how this forum interepts this? I have noticed women/girls certainly use their arms, when challenging, more then the men/boys do. Do you show flexibilty in assessing a foul when refereeing girls? I tend to, but maybe I am wrong. I recently refereed an under 12 girl's game that turned into a difficult game. I showed some discretion, and then realizing this was getting out of hand, tightened things up. To wrap this up, should I differentiate between boys and girls?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
While there is some differences in the games I do not differentiate between boys and girls on fouls. If it is a foul its a foul not matter what gender or age. In fact some of the underage games that are mixed I notice the girls are more likely to foul than the boys and once the arm is used to foul it make no difference whether its male or female.
The only concession that I make in relation to female games is that I am more generous when it comes to protection through the use of the hand / arm. Girls tend to be slightly more afraid of the ball hitting them and tend to raise the hands more quickly than boys.
I refereed a game recently where a girl suddenly realised that a ball was going to hit her on the head and she lifted her hands up with a natural instinct to protect, rather than trying to avoid it or take the contact. Her reaction was one of pure protection with no intent to deliberate handle the ball so I allowed play to continue.
As regards your game well done on recognising the match control issue and adjusting your game accordingly. You clearly saw what was not working and as you regained control that is good refereeing. Okay the trick is to not let it happen in the 1st place. However you might find that two different teams will react differently to your exercising discretion.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

IMO, the referee must be mindful of the different ways that men and women will tolerate contact in determining what is trifling.

In general, my experience is that women are far less tolerant with upper body pushes and pulls than men. (Men are less tolerant about contact at the hips and legs.) So, why does the ATR talk about women's arms higher - - watch your players run. The location of the arm while a women is running may not be an indication of an intent to foul and be in a 'normal playing position.
The ATR is reminding referees about the factors the referee may use to indicate fouls - - it is not suggesting that referees permit greater contact above the waist. My experience is that the opposite may be true. Repeated pushes in the back that men might accept can lead to a severe retaliation (often an elbow).

The referee should also be mindful that the signals about what the players will tolerate may also be different. An observant referee will note that the silence does not always mean that all is well.

FIFA referees Sandra Hunt and Sandra Serafini have written and spoke about the differences in refereeing the men and women's game, and many of their articles are on the internet.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

A couple of thoughts. First, consider where men place their hands for protection then translate that to where a woman will place THEIR hands for protection. Also, women will protect their face. Period. It is up to us as referees to gain the experience and expertise necessary to differentiate between 'normal' hand/arm positions and applying the Federation guidelines of 'making themselves bigger', etc. As my wife (who officiated in WUSA) says, women's players hands are continually 'up' - she calls them 'pitty-paws'. Women's arms and hands are continually up higher than men's and their hands have this kind of 'relaxed' look to them. It is very hard to describe and it would be great if you got some pictures of women players making challenges for things like headers and the like. When women players go up in the air so do their arms/hands. This is not to be confused with using the arms to push off and/or hold. And one last comment, as mentioned above women DO NOT accept upper body challenges as well as men and the reason is simple. Would YOU accept challenges that were in the neighborhood of what you physiologically value?? So long story short, indeed you SHOULD differentiate between the mens and womens game but do so intelligently and with appropriate knowledge of the physical differences between them.

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