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Question Number: 29154

Character, Attitude and Control 2/5/2015

RE: all Other

Amy Lloyd of Santa Cruz, California USofA asks...

From my match logs, I have been seeing what I now believe a trend in misconduct penalised in the middle third of the second half.

Most of the infractions and offenses are boookings for the unsporting conduct kind, esp., the cynical and tactical ones.

O wise sages on the learned panel of referees, why is that?

If the players are consciously making such plays, then it is a much simpler task to raise the awareness a notch up from the always turned on setting.

I know one thing that I have worked on, and that is reducing the dissent bookings late in the second half. It has indeed been hard work keeping the players focussed on their plays instead of chirping and jawing, although dissent after contentious whistles leading to attacking/loss and scoring/no goals, I still cant seem to influence.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Amy
What you are picking up is the physiology in the game. It has been estimated that high-intensity activities in soccer account for 1020% of match time.. So quite obviously not all of the 90 minutes are the same from the participants perspective and referees need to recognise that.
The times that referees need to be most focussed is at the start of each half, near the end of the half / game and the middle third of the second half.
In the middle third of the 2nd half players know that if they are behind this is an important time to lift the game and the opponent respond. Tiredness starts to creep in which slows players down which leads to late tackles etc. Referees need to respond at these critical times with an increased level of attention and upping their game to respond to perhaps growing frustration, poor fouls etc.
Responses can be adopting zero tolerance at these times, cautioning player, taking the intensity out of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Amy,
interesting observation. So are we discussing the mid third ,attacking third and defensive third of the field?
The most obvious is a free kick there is better than inside your PA or attacking third. It is the battle zone where if there is going to be contact tis the safest and most obvious spot to do so to stop their attacking structure! You hate to give a foul as you attack inside their defensive 3rd as the limited risk to your goal is negligible.

Or are we talking an intensity level of play that escalates in the middle third of the second half time wise? Did you notice a discrepancy between matches that were one sided versus those in a highly competitive match? Match analysis is the objective recording and examination of the cumulative events that occur during competition. Approx. 60 to 70% of all goals are scored in the 2nd half with most of them in the final 15 minutes. Those teams that do score early place them selves in good position to win but the composure, skill and physical fitness really factor into 2nd half play. At all competitive levels, the main concern is simply to score at least one more goal than the opponent! Watch and see how frantic tournaments get when the game is not decided and things like the goal differential, start influencing attacking philosophy.

Usually a full match, based on the need to achieve a result under goes a metamorphosis of sorts as the seconds tick away. Usually the first fifteen minutes is the players and the officials initially adjusting to what each other is bring to the game. In the early stages, there is the feeling out of the tactical situation! Probing runs, counter attacks, threading passes, exploiting holes, positions, looking for weaker players.

There is recognition of the referee's allowance and player's tolerance of doubtful and trifling. The end of the 1st half often reflects a awkwardness by the teams not to give up anything solid ,so the game winds down a bit, safety no mistakes.

The score might dictate how one or the other comes prepared at the start of the second but often the first 10 or so minutes is getting back into the rhythm of things. As an official I tend to be tight at the start of the halves and loosen the strings if they are still in the productive play setting,. Focusing in on the end game, watching new substitutions with their injection of fresh legs create difficulties for their tired opponents

.It is unfortunate but as the match draws to a conclusion, disrespect and frustration are partners in crime as ...disappointment... is a condition of the frustrated mind and tired muscles not acting in unison

If the result is not assured,the mind will want to vent its sense of irritation or anger at the physical failing to put that ball in the back of the goal ! Although you might not be an intended target, such outbursts might be aimed at you as your influence is calculated on THIER performance. As they get intense and elevate the game you too need to respond and explore those powerful levels with renewed focus and comprehension to deescalate the rising tensions.

You as a neutral official have no vested interest in the outcome of a match other than safety and fair play. The players at various levels, are a motley mixture of excitement, anxiety, irritation , sorrow pride, passion, politics, ego yet all trying to find the fun and joy of competition and achieve a desired outcome. That PK not awarded, we could be up a goal. or that corner kick you awarded where they scored that in their minds was a goal kick festers on those tired and aware of time running out. So they try a bit too hard to get that tackle in, trying to work through the cramps, looking for that level of control that is just eluding them.

I am pretty communicative on the pitch not so much trying to distract, the match is not about the official, but to be aware of the players needs. I apply advantage, I might ask the player, Happy with that or did you prefer the free kick? I am right here laddie let him go or we will stop for a wee break and talk about it. After a knock I will investigate. You ok? He get a cleat in? Dissent is a tool, if you are able to discern the ...missed hits... (things that might have escaped your eagle eye) from the ...hissy fits... the disappointed ramblings, crying about life being unfair!

WHERE ARE YOU IN REGUARDS TO POSITIONING at these crucial misconduct settings? They right there under your eye or are they flaring across the pitch? The oppositions ball control in the mid third possession is where the tactical necessity to stop attacks occurs. They want to thump the opponent away from their goal. It is very risky to simply stay with a talented dribbler as he nimbly dances around in and out of your PA so the takeout place is the mid third before it gets that far. Get close, let them know you are there and AWARE! Communicate with the players, find a way that works for you!

Blow that WHISTLE! Indicate the restart and get out of the way whenever you can. If it is a cautionable action then you do as you must. I have heard it said by players I officiate, claim they know a card is coming by the sound of my whistle! lol. I use the phrase, 'YOU ARE BEING MOST UNWISE' a lot to those who are pushing for further misconduct by being unwilling to agree to disagree and move on. Look for the laughter, try to get ahead of the play and be consistent , give great effort and know the LOTG.

Your REPUTATION will eventually be a reflection of the effort and knowledge and calm demeanour you display in your matches. While they may disagree with a decision, they will respect a referee who comes prepared to put their safety, their needs at the top of her list! Your character and compassion ,your integrity and humour are all part of the persona of a calm well rounded referee. You are not a clone ,you can not mimic others but you can use everyone's experience to find the best way to do your job! I like the way you approach the game, recording, analyzing your matches trying to solve issues before they arise. Noticing how players react to circumstances and engaging them in a positive way. Great work!


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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Congrats on keeping and reviewing your log. Self-assessment is an critical skill for refereeing at the highest levels.

As Ref McHugh notes, more fouls and misconduct arise when players tire. Referees focus can drop a bit when we get tired as well. Retaliation increases (and fouls get nastier) when the smaller fouls that players might have accepted earlier in the match begin to accumulate.

Many referees often treat the last ten minutes of the match as a special time:
- - to tighten up the match;
- - to run a bit more, and walk a bit less. By staying closer to the players and play, the referee's presence (and a calming voice) can influence the players' behavior;
- - checking in more often with the assistant referees. Their energy and focus can begin to drag too. More eye contact keeps them in the game.

In amateur matches with unlimited substitutions, there is an additional problem. Starters may be 'rested' by the coach in the second half, and enter the game in the last 15 minutes. Players do not like to sit on the bench, and often want to prove to the coach that they (not the substitute) should start the next game. They also may plan how to deal with opponents they have been battling. They may do something reckless. So, the referee's awareness needs to go up a notch when the substitute enters the game.

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