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Question Number: 27358

The Technical Area 4/26/2013

RE: U-18 and High School Under 19

Michael White of Woburn, Ma U.S. asks...

Hi Ask Ref,
I was recntly disqualified from a match for not being in a technical area. I would like to get your opinion of the situation? There were no lines on the field to outline a technical area, or was it established before the game with the referee. Both myself and the other coach walked the sideline from the middle field to roughly the 18 during the course of the game. This was not an issue until the 86th minute of the match. At which time my team scored a goal to make it 2 - 1 in favor of the other team. I instucted my player to get the ball from the net and bring it to the midfield to restart play as time was running out. The referee informed me that it is unsportman like to get the ball if our play touchs it they would be cautioned. At this time I address him as sir and asked him why it was unpsportsman like and he respond that it is and dont do. The other coach asked me what happened and I explained the sitution to him. He then stopped play and came over and explained to me again and order me to sit on the bench. Which I walked away and did. About 30 seconds later the ball came out of bounce at our bench I caught it and gave it to my player at which time was was standing right infront of the bench no more than a foot from it. He stop play again and stated you need to sit on the bench, I said sir I dont need to sit on the bench. He asked me again to sit down, I explained that i dont need to sit on the bench that I can stand in front of it. He then stated I was disqualified from the match. Mean while as this was going on the other coach was at the mid field for the entire time and the reminder of the game. So I guess I can I be disqualified if the technical area was never established and what right does a referee have to make me sit on the bench and not in force the rule for both teams? Thank you for your responds.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
When a goal is scored the conceding team takes the resulting kick off. Simple statement yet that means that the ball 'belongs' to the conceding team at that time. Now when a player who has no 'right' to the ball at a restart decides to touch it and that provokes a confrontation then that player can be cautioned.
After a goal is scored confrontations can be likely and referees are asked to manage those situation carefully usually by asking the scoring team to leave the ball alone and ensuring that there is no 'tussle' for the ball.
The 'safest' tactic for the scoring team is to run back to the half way line and prepare for the kick off. It is up to the referee to then ensure that the conceding team retrieve the ball and get on with the restart. The referee can add on any time lost lost through any tardiness at the restart.
Now as regards the technical area it should be marked. When it is not marked the referee has two choices. Get it marked or go with what is there. When it is not marked the general area in proximity to any seated area or close to the half way line is understood to be that area. The area extends one yard to the side of the seating area and one yard from the touchline. In NFHS the team areas extends from 10 yards on each side of the halfway line for a distance of 20 yards.
The requirement that all occupants of the technical area including coaches must be seated used to be part of the Laws of the Game up until 2009. Implementing that caused a great deal of difficulty in respect of coaches who preferred to stand and in 2009 FIFA changed the Law which now allows for one coach / manager to stand to convey tactical advice without returning to a seated position. It is understood that all substitutes and technical staff should remain seated when seats are provided is either part of the competitions rules or just good practise. The occupants of the technical area including the coach must act in a responsible manner and those that fails to do so can be removed from the area.
Now what I read from your explanation is that the referee was lenient with both sets of technical staff for most of the game because they did not come to his attention and he cut both sides a great deal of 'slack' in not enforcing fully the technical area advice. The instructions given by you to your player could have caused a confrontation and that was conveyed to you. You protested that advice and then failed to take further advice from the referee which was to return to a seated position as you were not conveying tactical advice. You continued to protest that and that is not acting in a responsible manner for which you were disqualified. The opposing bench obviously behaved responsibly throughout the game and a coach is allowed to stand to convey tactical advice.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Under the laws of the game, the coach may be dismissed for irresponsible behavior. - moving down to the penalty area, instructing a player who has just scored to retrieve the ball after a goal, and dissenting from the referee's action in warning your player not to follow that instruction are factors that could lead to such a dismissal. Standing up should not.

For high school (NFHS), a coach may be cautioned for coaching outside the 'team area' (defined in Rule 1-5-3 ). A disqualification occurs for receiving a second caution in the match. NFHS rules do not expressly give the coach the right to stand, but that is the norm in my area of the country.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Coach. This sheds some light on a previous question. You should not instruct your players to get the ball after you score. After you score, the ball 'belongs' to the other team. A few years ago, it was an automatic caution to do this. Now, it's a caution only if taking the ball out of the net causes a confrontation with the opponents. It's possible the referee was unaware of the rule change.

Technical areas are rarely marked at youth soccer fields. These areas generally become whatever the referee says they are. I tell coaches their technical areas extend 3 feet each direction the ends of their bench and must stay a yard off the touchline. Never do I allow coaches past the top of the penalty area nor within 2-3 yards of the halfway line. I don't want opposing coaches too close to each other. NFHS has different requirements as to where the Technical Area is located.

Prior to 2001, The Laws stated that persons in the Technical Area should be seated. In 2001 the wording changed to this:

 Only one person at a time is authorised to
convey tactical instructions "and he must return
to his position after giving these instructions."

The area within quotes was added in 2001 and "his position" was understood to mean "seated on the bench". Perhaps your referee was remembering this. In 2009 this was removed and the persons inside the technical Area were allowed to stand.

But you weren't dismissed for straying outside your technical area coach. You were dismissed for arguing with the referee which is "behaving in an irresponsible manner." It states in the current edition of the Laws, and always has stated:

The coach and other occupants of the
technical area must behave in a responsible

None of us were at your game nor do we know the referee but reading between the lines, I believe this referee thought you were questioning his decisions and, more importantly, were doing so in a disrespectful manner. This sentence in your question seems indicative of the tone of your relationship with this referee at your game:

He asked me again to sit down, I explained that i dont need to sit on the bench that I can stand in front of it.

Whether the referee was correct or not, you have here a great example of why it's never a good idea to argue with the referee. I suspect the first time he told you to sit down this referee was already getting tired of having to explain himself. You acknowledged his authority by complying then decided when he told you again to be seated that you no longer were under his authority and were going to do whatever you wanted. At that point the referee decided you had to leave. Your statement and the tone of it were certainly seen by the referee to be confrontational and irresponsible and he acted accordingly. At least that's how I see this altercation. He probably allowed the other coach to continue to stretch the boundaries of the Technical Area and remain standing because he was still acting in a responsible manner. You are allowed to stand. You are not allowed to act in an irresponsible manner and that was why you were dismissed.

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