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Question Number: 28605

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/15/2014

RE: Competitive Under 16

David M of Southern, California USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28600

My question involves the 2014 World Cup. I'm sure you have received many questions regarding certain plays in the various games. My question involves the collision between Higuain and Neuer in the 57th minute of the World Cup Final. I've spoken to several people about this play, and I've read other referee websites. I can't believe how many people will say, 'Well the keeper hit the ball first.' Or if I complain that the keeper put his knee in the forward's head, they will say 'The keeper was just trying to protect himself and the referees always try to protect the keeper.' I'm not sure what the referee would be trying to protect the keeper from in that situation. In my opinion the German keeper initiated the contact and should have been shown the red card for a serious foul and been given a send off. Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
The question has been asked a number of times and it has been debated quite a lot among the soccer community.
At this level of the game unfortunately contact between players in these situation tends to be ignored. I read recently that Graham Poll the former UK FIFA referee said that for him Neuer was blameless as he stretched to punch the ball away and his momentum caught his opponent. He went to say that perhaps Rizzoli was wrong to give Germany a free kick when a throw-in seemed the right decision.
That decision did surprise me as well as any likely foul was by Neuer although I have explained on other answers why I thought the free was awarded to Germany.
Anyway Referee Rizzoli did not have the benefit of what we have which is action reply, freeze frame, slow motion and the time to make the call.
I'm off the view that in the comfort of my chair looking at multiple video replays, different angles that it was certainly reckless and also likely to endanger the safety of an opponent.
Would I have awarded a penalty in a game situation? Probably somewhat like Graham Poll I may have thought it was a coming together at speed of two player committed to the ball and most likely to go with a throw in.
If a penalty was awarded and a card there would have been an equal amount of debate about that call. Therein lies a message.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi David,

to critically assess the performance of another is difficult because as a group we are bad at avoiding the bias of the spectacular. Can not take credit for that, I read it somewhere but it speaks to how our mindsets are focused on the exaggeration of it looks worse in slow motion thus It looks much worse, and therefore must be much worse, is difficult to overcome If you watch that same game at the 27 .07 minute of that match look closely at the height and outstretched leg by #1 Sergio Romero the Argentinian keeper against #7 Bastian Schweinsteiger from Germany. I actually thought this was worse, good thing the player moved out of the way!

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, it is not without merit, many feel this was a DFK charging offence against the German Keeper and attached the terms reckless, thus caution show the yellow card or excessive SFP show the red card send off to what would have to be a PK. It states clearly in the LOTG A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player charges an in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force
Charging an opponent is a challenge for space using physical contact within playing distance of the ball without using arms or elbows. A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder with at least one foot on the ground . A keeper lunging to clear the ball both feet off the ground there is certainly room to see this as a foul and punish accordingly So why so much controversy? It is because the keeper can use his hands and thus he challenges for balls in a different manner than players when he does so.
• br>

I make no excuses for the decisions of those far above my pay grade, the consensus by many top end referees is at the WC level this is a no call, throw in for Argentina, slightly different than the DFK in Germany's favour awarded by the Italian referee. In a recent interview the referee of the World Cup final Nicola Rizzoli said yesterday that while he was right in not awarding a penalty when the German keeper Manuel Neuer hit Gonzalo Higuaín in the 55th minute. He did say he was wrong in awarding the free kick against Gonzalo Higuaín it should have been a throw in for Argentina.

Mind you, as I and my colleagues continually point out, a referee has a brief flicker of an eyelash, from a single angle with just two eyes (maybe four and 1 other angle if we consider the AR ) to see, analyze and come to a decision where two players running at 15 to 20 miles an hour are gathering into a single space, from intersecting angles, to play the ball. The Match official and the AR on that side communicated with one another on what occurred! The decision they arrived at is not the one those who have had time to stop and analyze the events of a micro second, these past few days.

I have tried to be as factual as possible in discussing real time events in frame by frame, slow motion, stop time, photography rehash. I have attended many seminars and instructional sessions on foul recognition, foul tolerances and watched countless examples of video where we watch without too much excitement as part of natural play then they break the same incident down into slow motion compartments suddenly we are ooooing and ahhhing at the non calls looking more careless, the careless looking more reckless and the reckless looking more excessive. The REALITY of a match is you have a fleeting moment of time, NEVER to be repeated, to be in that critical spot, at precisely the right angle to see without ANY doubt and make a decision to stop play or continue. It also points out that sometimes slowing things down make it look worse than it is as often as it magnifies the need to see a stud's up tackle for what it is! No one can claim they would call this different in REAL EARTH time.

There is no doubt there was contact made after the ball was punched away by the keeper. I realize that does not impress you much! 'I got the ball ref!', is a sound we often hear as we merit out free kicks and show cards to be sure!

I make a very definite distinction in the reacting time given the athletic ability of the elite player versus those at the lower levels of play when talking about Foul Recognition ( the ability to tell fair from foul )and Foul Tolerance (the ability to ignore foul as fair) Consider the behaviour of the players on the field. One of the most dynamic condition of this incident is the Argentinian players expectations, they weren't even arguing for a PK for the contact but arguing that the Keeper had deliberately handled the ball outside of the PA. The acceptance of the contact far outweighed their concern the ball was perhaps not in a position for the keeper to play it.
The Argentinian Bench was up in arms, spectators are screaming, the rest of the players on the field were trying to get a drink of water!

A keeper's legal right to use his hands within the penalty area is in truth a very real danger to himself and others for the same reason as he is MORE likely to claim to any air balls by virtue of being taller and looming large over the strikers as he is likely to throw himself into the feet of charging strikers and getting his teeth kicked in when the ball is on the ground. Risky business at best for both strikers and keepers and yes they both groups recognize the rights of the other to do their duty, one is defend the other attack. There is a legitimate and deeply held conviction the keeper knee is raised as a coaching tactic to protect the keeper as a cushion and intimidate players from bowling him over. I think this FACT drives the red card engine as a knee driven directly into the head is most unpleasant I grant you but this is not what occurred in my opinion even if there was some sideways contact, as the striker was moving forward into the intersecting keeper.

If you are interested look up the link below

This is a 100% RED card SFP PK incident of a keeper cleaning out a striker!!

Harold Schumacher vs. Patrick Battiston (1982 World Cup semi finals)

Germany versus France 1982 World Cup semi finals THAT was ( in my not so humble opinion at all) a RED CARD SEND OFF OFFENCE PK restart. Patrick Battiston the French striker pushed the ball past the German keeper Harold Schumacher who charges at Battiston driving his hipbone directly into Patrick's head and face who is absolutely crushed and immediately going down unconscious, packed off to the hospital and the referee made no call! Heck the restart was a goal kick and the Germans never even considered giving the ball back unlike the French versus Brazil in 1998 World Cup finals when the French keeper Fabien Barthez crashed with Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima the great Brazilian striker who is winded and dazed crumples to ground with Barthez on top of him. The resulting restart was a throw in, taken by the French who turned the ball back over to Brazil even though in my opinion Ronaldo was at fault for the collision. Again no call on anyone by the officials

NOWHERE within the laws of the game says that a collision between two opposing players MUST be a foul on one of them. The LOTG do address that either one of course COULD be guilty of an offence and accompanying misconduct causing the referee to stop play and restart it with a free kick as well it addressing the fact that BOTH players from different teams could simultaneously offend causing the referee to stop play and restart it with a drop ball.

It maybe true that at a recreational youth or park level this incident could and perhaps should be called differently. Our kids safety and the desire for those who want to be able to go to work the next day would be the common factor. No one and I mean NO ONE should referee recreational soccer with the same degree of tolerance displayed at the World Cup! No one should be offering this video as the black and white of what is or what is not be tolerated or allowed. The divergent opinions on this incident from referees at all levels on play are a clear indication that FIFA and the National associations must address this in house and give a unified, clear understanding so at the seminars and training programs to reflect a pragmatic sensible scale of WC ok , pro level sort of ok, Recreational or Youth perhaps not ok.

Something to consider is in my humble opinion there were four or five far more serious incident's in this same match!

I enclose the tags below who knows how long they might be available but they show multiple angles of the incident



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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


With the help of pictures taken from all angles, it is clear for me to see that Manuel Neuer had his knee bent and projected forward when the said knee contacted Gonzalo Higuaín. And of course this was done at some speed making the collision quite severe. For me this is reckless action and should have been punished by at least a caution if not a send off, with a PK for a restart.

But David, it matters not what I think nor what any referee site panelist thinks. What matters is how real live, current FIFA referees think and how they ref the game. Apparently goalies have the right to jump up with one knee extended, generally aimed at the oncoming attacker. And for that matter, to a lesser extent, even non goalies can jump up, knee extended when challenging for the ball. That's how Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior broke his back - no call!!

The games I reffed on Sundays were played by amateurs and these guys had to go to work on Monday morning and part of my job was to make sure that they will be able to do that. I saw many goalies, who had the habit of raising the knee and I warned these goalies that I will not stand for it.

You and I are on the same page: red card the goalie and PK restart. But we would be wrong because we must emulate the top level officials. Of course you still have to make the appropriate adjustment for age and skill level of the players.

Have you ever seen a penalty kick taken where all the players, except the goalie and kicker stay outside the penalty area and 10 yards from the mark? I haven't. Many instances were shown in this World Cup where the goalie took way more than six seconds to clear the ball. Never called. All kinds of little things that are in the book but they DO NOT CALL IT. So, us blue collar refs simple have to do likewise.

42 year old Nicola Rizzoli has been doing high level games for a while, seven years as a FIFA ref. If he says it's OK for the goalie to do what he did, so be it. You bet that coaches around the world are now reinforced to train their keepers to follow Neuer's example. Not sure how this sits with you and the U-16 league your kid plays in...

And just for the record, I am not trying to be cynical, just a realist.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

As pointed out controversy, speculation and opinions abound . We do not criticize match referees for match decisions at the elite level because we know from experience a referee with integrity sees what he sees even if we see it different. It does not mean we all agree or for that matter all disagree that they way it is at the WC is the example for those who referee recreational or youth soccer should emulate. Most panel members here are of a mind a similar incident at youth or recreational play likely results in a PK and at minimum a caution! Then again the pro league and even higher tiers we might well go the way of no call given the speed at which this occurs and the acceptance of the players. In the same match where this contact occurred one only has to watch that same game at the 27 .07 minute of that match look closely at the height and outstretched leg by #1 Sergio Romero the Argentinian keeper against #7 Bastian Schweinsteiger from Germany. No one even blinked but is that what we want to see at the youth and recreational level??

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