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Question Number: 28700

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/4/2014

RE: Rec Under 10

Jay LaFountain of Coldwater, MI USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 28623

Great site - I've been taking in everything I can about refereeing. I haven't had my first match yet, but I'll be doing up to U14 as an AR and possibly U10 as a center.

In the case put forward in question 28623, the goalkeeper touched the ball with his hands outside the penalty area in a DOGSO situation. The referee showed leniency, not because he did not believe it was a DOGSO, but because the 'keeper didn't know he was outside the PA.'

Looking at the LotG, isn't a red card mandatory for DOGSO regardless of whether it was intentional? That is, he handled the ball intentionally... outside of the PA there is no allowance for GKs to do that, AND the ref called the foul. Since the ref called the foul, isn't the only way he could not hand out the red card to decide it was not an OGSO?

So if the players on the attacking team have the ref implicitally stating that 'yes this was DOGSO but I'm not carding because the keeper didn't know' then isn't that a violation of the LotG that should be challenged, and then upheld, so long as that remains the story?

Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


We apply the Laws differently to suit the age level. At a very young level, like this game, the referee shows considerable discretion. The foul WAS recognized and a DFK given but for an unusual reason, the referee decided not to send off the player and show the red card.

Two problems here. First, there is absolutely no need for the ref to explain WHY it was not a DOGSO; he is under no obligation to enter into the pros and cons during the game. Secondly, his reason is insufficient for not enforcing DOGSO.

Having said all this, at a U10 game (not sure what age group it was) a send off is very harsh in just about any circumstance. I remember doing just that once and the kid went off sobbing, clearly emotionally marred. That was 20 years ago and I wonder if he has recovered....

So, in this case, the ref could have NOT given a DOGSO because that is a very subjective call, carry on with the DFK and it would have been chalked up to 'in the opinion of the referee' and there would have been no story. But what he cannot do is say, yep, it was DOGSO but the poor kid just made a little mistake.

Now you are saying 'challenge'. If my Ducati Multistrada was on the line, sure I would challenge it. But a U10 league game?? Don't think so.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jay,
glad you found us! We look forward to hearing about your experiences now that you have entered the sacred centre circle of officials lol

Enjoy the experience! Consider the three Rs:

-respect for others

-respect for self

-take responsibility for your actions!

As AR you have two OVERIDING performance issues!

Firstly: - stay with the second last defender!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You are not centre referee, you do not watch the game in the same way! Offside is your baby, do not drop the ball here! When in doubt? DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT!

Secondly: - under no circumstances do you let the centre referee screw up without a quiet word if in fact he is! Then if he wants to continue screwing up it is His Match! His Decision! His Reputation!

You ask an interesting question

It is certainly well founded given the discretionary power of a referee to consider the NEED to do something but misapplication of law is difficult to explain away. That's the rub here, though you admit to the criteria as being met but then fail to show the correct colour card as a choice! If you settle on the excuse of compassion and your concept of fair play within the need to act appropriately tempered with a rationalization young players may not truly benefit from the action taken you could be taking a very big risk with only some feel good reward!

So is it a misapplication of law?

Or an opinion on facts of play?

Does it really matter?

Generally my feeling is if we are 11 aside competitive football the laws apply and if the misconduct actually requires a red then red is usually the correct choice. Even a by the book referee can show awareness and sympathy for a younger player about to be given the red sleigh ride. A calm explanation in conjunction with the coach present in a supportive role can minimize the trauma of a first send off. In the u little's smaller sided matches often their are special circumstances and even in high school matches the league itself has altered the carding process to be more lenient! Still in my humble opinion, it is a very, very, bad idea to publically state why you do not choose to act in accordance with the LOTG as opposed not to act at all! If you are confident that your decision is one you can live with, knowing that if such a decision was protested you must later explain your actions along with your admission what you did and why, then by all means do so! Just be aware their are consequences and accountability issues to the things we choose to do for whatever reasons or intentions you care to think up! Thusly it should be no surprise if you were held responsible and face unpopular repercussions instead of just receiving praise, being thought of a nice compassionate man and a great referee. All our choices matter, some, more than others, have conditions attached! .

You really need to look up question 28699 because I actually address the very issue you are referring to.
We also addressed it in a old you call it question number 15 6/8/2008

'In a close u-12 girls match a defender on the goal line acts like a keeper CLEARLY preventing a ball from entering the goal by handling the ball deliberately. While you award a PK you only warn the player. The resulting PK misses and later that defender scores the winning goal for her side. The losing team protests the match claiming the scorer was supposed to be sent off and was an illegal player. You are called up to defend your actions to the review committee.
Your match, Your Decision, YOUR REPUTATION!!! '

Over time I developed an unusual pattern of perception whereby I saw the game differently when playing the game as a needful player, watching the game as a biased fan, cheering as a proud parent, invested in the outcome as a coach and as a supposedly neutral referee! Referees often find themselves in an unenviable positions where a decision made in a split-second could be devastating to the aspirations of a player, team, city, even nation. In an article I wrote long ago entitled ' Are we still on the same side when we disagree? ' I remarked there are four points of view from which a game is seen.

1 players see what they feel to see
2 coaches sees what they want to see
3 spectators see what they think they see
4 a referee with integrity sees what he sees

While we can not perhaps compare recreational to elite level football, played for gain rather than pleasure. The adversarial attitudes that occasionally surround recreational football are still created by the need for a result or favourable outcome.

Within the confines of competitive football the spectre of the Spirit of the Game Laws are in essence the framework of the unwritten LAW 18 known as 'Common Sense' (not always so common< sigh) which indirectly, affects, modifies and controls all the other 17 Laws.

As you undertake the treadmill of officiating at the lower levels you may find, although soccer organizations like FIFA and the IFAB, USSF, NHSF do try to mandate specifics for if that occurs you MUST do this or if this occurs you MUST do that! Referees have to judge for themselves exactly what action contravenes 'the spirit of the game thus providing a controllable environment for the beautiful game!
It is not easy to establish effective, safe control of a match whilst allowing the players' their space and options to keep the game free flowing. To walk that fine line of being part of the game rather than the focus of the play, takes the form of experience and character of a referee who understands preventive actions! Continually adjusting within the framework of a match , along the full spectrum of being the players best buddy to tossing cards at anything moving on the field of play!

There are 7 send off offences to which we can point to that DEMAND the showing of the red card. HOWEVER, only if a 2nd caution is awarded and a 2nd yellow card is actually shown does a referee HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE BUT to show the red card! The others all have ITOOTR (In The Opinion Of The Referee) attached to them in some form or another, with perhaps, 'Spitting at an opponent' as having the least leeway! I have to think spitting at an opponent as a red card event is almost as sure a thing as is the double caution when it comes to mandatorily showing the red card! Possible exceptions/exemptions? Perhaps a player, spitting to clear the throat/nose or a vicious sneeze in the general direction of an opponent or anyone including the referee and wind assisted hits or nearly hits a person is NOT a direct spit at a person!

Serious foul play and Violent Conduct are matters of subjective interpretation. We have all watched dozens of matches where in OUR opinion VC (violent conduct) or SFP (serious foul play) red card items were down graded to USB a yellow card item!
Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures clearly a red card item are not only dismissed as dissent a caution and a yellow card item but often ignored altogether if it does not meet the standard of ire by the referee.

The two DOGSO conditions both have criteria that must be met as an opinion of a fact of play and if advantage is played resulting in a goal, then we are to dismiss the possibility. I do suspect that the DOGSO fouls are the hardest for a compassionate referee to enforce because there is not necessarily any volatile or violent or virulent behaviour attached to them . You should also be aware that even if a keeper does deliberately handle the ball outside his own penalty area, he is just a player and the same criteria are applied to determine if DOGSO is actually present! A ball going wide or nearby defenders etc... can turn this into a free kick or free kick caution show a yellow card instead of showing a red card.


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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The purpose of the sendoff for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity was to stamp out the 'professional foul' that led to very cynical fouls when the defender (usually standing on the goal line) prevented the ball from going into the goal because they knew that a penalty kick and yellow card was always better than allowing a goal.

With U-littles, that rarely is the situation. It is more likely that the player was the keeper in the first half and forgot she wasn't the keeper. So, the wise referee considers the circumstances in deciding what to do next.

We should expect a different response from a referee in a U8 recreational match than a U12 competitive one. Is it cheating to not send off the player? Is it bending the laws? I like to think it is recognizing that in a U8 recreational match, no goal scoring opportunity is that obvious.
Note: even when it is appropriate to send off the player, however, the referee can adjust the mechanic to meet the circumstances. In some matches, walking the player to the coach and asking the coach to explain why she cannot play any more today is more appropriate than simply raising a card over one's head.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jay
Always make the ''best'' decision for the game. Hopefully that matches with what is in line with the Laws and what is expected in the game.
In this situation I don't believe anyone expects a U Little to be dismissed for a lack of judgement. Anyway as a referee I can also determine that in my opinion a goal scoring opportunity did not exist. I have been told many times by players and coaches that I was wrong to dismiss as a goal scoring opportunity did not exist or that I should have dismissed because it did. That is always a subjective call. Had the referee not used the lack of intent reasoning but rather at this level the goal scoring opportunity was tenuous would anyone have questioned that?
The 4Ds in evaluating a DOGSO as I have said are subjective and I hear many saying that because the goalkeeper handled the ball outside the penalty area it has to be a DOGSO. Not so and indeed in many case it is not. The angle can be poor, direction of play can be away from goal, lack of control of the ball, quick moving defenders etc will all impact on the referee's decision. I would also factor in age into the equation as very young players just don't have the motor skills or the ability to maintain the opportunity.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

In high school, It is also the rule (12-8-2d-2 that a goalkeeper who deliberately handles the ball outside the penalty attempting to prevent a goal and the goal is not scored is to be disqualified (red card). Education is one of the goals of high school soccer, and although this misconduct occurred in a pre-high school game, I think that if this was a case where the goalkeeper deliberately handled the ball outside the penalty area to prevent a goal, an educational opportunity was lost by not disqualifying the goalkeeper. The goalkeeper would have learned the rule which would have allowed him to act more intelligently in future situations similar to this.

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