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Question Number: 28887

Law 18 - Common Sense 10/21/2014

RE: Competitive Adult

Jack Smith of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

I was linked to a strange incident on Youtube ( In the video, it appears that a defender is cautioned for unsporting behaviour / delaying the restart of play for clearing the ball too hard (while it is in play).

Unfortunately for the player, it is his second caution and he is then sent-off for receiving a second caution in the same match.

Is the referee within his rights to caution a player for doing this - if not, would this be a misapplication of the Laws of the Game and grounds for a replay, or simply a decision regarding facts connected with play?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jack
The video shows the ball being kicked over a high fence for a throw in to the attacking team. On the face of this it should never have been a caution. Simply add on the lost time. However I am always wary of looking at incidents on video in isolation and without the full facts. The ground is surrounded by high fencing obviously to prevent this happening yet the player goes out of his way to kick the ball over that in what I understand was the 87th minute. Did the player acts in a manner which showed a lack of respect for the game? Would it make any difference if that was done multiple times by the same player and was already warned by the referee not to do it? What if the balls were not readily retrievable and play had already been delayed multiple times? Did the player shout something? Was there a previous incident and the referee was waiting for a stoppage to caution?
The referee has the powers to caution for USB for any acts that in his opinion do not respect the game so there is no misapplication of the Laws nor grounds for an appeal. The caution might get rescinded but that does not change the fact on the day. Generally such acts are not cautioned and that is why the referee's action had made the internet. The referee uses other powers such as adding on time for the time lost in retrieving the ball in these situations.
I also think that this is poor play by Whites anyway to kick the ball back towards its own goal putting pressure on the defender. If we exclude the caution part Whites have invited Purple on some 40 yards down field for an attacking throw in in a dangerous position. If Whites are putting it out of play do so in the other half. Also why does White 4 get involved with the AR plus Whites goalkeeper can count himself lucky he is not walking either for his push on the referee

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jack,

This type of incident has been discussed at length on refereeing forums. Most referees agree that while the ball is in play, the players are free to kick it as hard as they like, even if it's just to clear it out.

Some said there may be some extreme cases (such as the low-level match with one ball, where the ball is in the corner with nobody around and the player has clearly tried to lose the ball in the creek), but even those are dubious.

As for this one, I can't see any possible way you could say the manner in which he kicked the ball out was unsporting. It actually looked fairly regular to me. Given the ball was in the air and the player was under some pressure, I don't have a problem with the manner of the kick.

But, as Ref McHugh said, are we missing some of the story? One possibility may be that the card wasn't for that kick, but an earlier incident in play from which advantage was played.

Incidentally, I'm also rather concerned at the fact that the goalkeeper pushed the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jack,
interesting like Paul Harvey on the old radio show and now, for the rest of the story!
I guess we take the header on the video at face value .

I could not tell if that was an attack off a pass forward or a defensive clearance from a bad pass back? I did not see an offside flag up as I wondered if the referee HAD blown the whistle and the player was reacting by blasting the ball out.

I rarely dispute a referee's decision when the circumstances to me are unknown and it is his match his decision his reputation.

If it was a defensive clearance, given the way that pass, if you could call it that, was hammered back to him, forcing him to give chase and then pound it out of play, is really weird?

I too was wondering at the push by the keeper which was not challenged at all by the referee that I could see. But as a general rule no, we do not caution for a ball driven out of play for a throw in or a goal kick. If we need to add time to retrieve the ball then hopefully the league allows for it but often match schedules on fields is tight so, it MAY BE this player was warned earlier and the surrounding fence area is a local bylaw where it is requested not to blow the ball out forcefully but we are grasping at straws here. There are umpteen reasons for a caution to be awarded as my colleague Ref McHugh sagely points out. Perhaps the referee thought the ball was blasted at his AR who sort of ducks a bit.

One would need to read the referee report as to what actions were taken and why to truly have an idea if there is cause for concern.
It could likely stand as a fact of play even if the league overturned the send off on appeal but who knows what an individual league or association might decided on their own idea of what is fair or within the LOTG!

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