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Question Number: 28759

Mechanics 9/21/2014

RE: D-3 competitive Under 17

Jess of Long Island, NY USA asks...

The ref handed out a red card today. After the opposing coach walked onto the field and spoke to him the ref then went and spoke to his AR. After that, he reversed the red card and continued play.
Is it legal/acceptable to Red Card a player, have that player be headed off the field, and then reverse the
decision and that player keeps playing?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jess
As long as play has not restarted the referee may change any decision including the issue of a red card. In this case it would appear the the AR had seen something that the referee had not and provided the referee with additional information. That is perfectly acceptable. Might be poor mechanics yet it is acceptable in Law. It is always better though to get the decision correct even if it means reversing a decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jess,
The opposing coach?? From the team not shown a red card, not playing a a man down? Hmm sounds like he felt an injustice was done and tried to intervene in a sporting gesture? If justice was done, then all the poor mechanics really do not matter, except when you get blasted in the post game review lol, as my colleague Ref McHugh points out! It is always better to get the decision correct even if it means reversing a decision.

We can not be coerced into changing a decision we must respect the facts of play and deal with what we know to be true. Still if a referee kacks a big one and some ray of light flitters in before he restarts, as long as play had not restarted, it is legal for a referee to reverse a card based on the additional information from a neutral AR!

Now as much as I might respect a coach wanting to correct a perceived injustice, Coaches walking onto the field to discuss a match decision with a referee. Hmmm we are usually are not so amicable nor are we likely to change a decision based solely on their plea or statement of the facts as they see it. In fact it is quite likely the coach could find themselves tossed if a less tolerant referee suggests they go back to the technical area and they try to argue no matter how correct they feel themselves to be!


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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


To answer your question, indeed it is acceptable to reverse any decision if play has not been restarted or if the game has not ended.

I have done it. Not proud of it but if I know I made a mistake and if I can still reverse it, why not? An example: I whistle for a corner kick and both attacker and defender insist that it should be goal kick. Fair enough; I erred, goal kick.

Brave coach walking on the field! Must have been a glaring mistake. I applaud the ref for (supposedly) getting it right.

By the way, only in Las Vegas do they hand out cards. In soccer we just 'show' it to them.

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