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Question Number: 29517

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/1/2015

RE: Rec, Select Under 12

Jay LaFountain of Coldwater, MI USA asks...

This is a question about the USWNT game vs. Germany.

Alex Morgan drove towards the penalty area and then jumped at another player. They made contact outside the area, and then the contact finished inside the area.

The referee called for a penalty kick.

Now, I'm seeing this from camera angles and such so I believe she's got it right on the pitch, but to me it looked like Morgan fouled the German player by jumping at her.

I wish I could talk to the actual referee who called it, but you guys are all I have! So, with the wisdom of the panel, can you explain that play as if it were a you-call-it and what you would have called?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jay,

Another one of our readers provided the following clip:

The incident in question is about 1min in.

In cases like this, we need to determine where the 'foul' occurs. Usually it's in the case of initial contact (as opposed to holding which can continue into the area). Here, the foul itself occurred outside the area, and the players were falling over each other by the time they carried into the PA. But I have no doubt that the foul itself was outside the area (point of contact).

As a referee, if you're not certain if it's a PK or a DFK outside, then it's a DFK outside. You need to be able to identify cues on the player in determining location. If you're on a pitch with lines that you can't see from more than 10 yards away, you can stare at the spot of grass and run up, then the line will reveal itself and you'll see the location. Otherwise, look at cues on the player's body. The referee should have been able to see by the location of the red player - who was in front of the white player - that it was outside the PA. Had she noticed the location of the feet at the moment of the foul, she would have seen that the feet were clearly outside the PA, thus due to the nature of the foul, the entire foul was outside the PA.
I'm only guessing as to how she made the decision, but she seems to have missed the critical location of the feet, and only checked the location after the players have started falling down - and by this point momentum had carried them inside the PA.
The AR is usually critical in these cases, although being in line with the 2nd last defender means she may have been unable to tell. This is why brief eye contact momentarily before making the decision will help. If the referee glances to the AR as they're about the blow the whistle, this gives the AR to either run to in line with the edge of the PA to communicate a DFK, or to the position for the PK to communicate it was inside.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jay
Once the German player went across to challenge for the ball and made no contact on the ball her subsequent movement brought her into the path of Morgan USA which always ran the very high risk of a foul. If there was no contact it was impeding and once there was contact it was holding by use of the body. So for me correct decision to award the penalty kick and one that the vast majority of referees would give in real time. It certainly needed help from the AR to decide otherwise and even at that with the continued contact inside the penalty area that was always going to be difficult not to give.
Now in the modern game defenders know that if they do not win the ball and their movement is into the path of the opponent that no effort will be made to avoid the contact. Had the German player been static with the USA player running into her then a possibility of charging by USA player. Yet that is not what happened. Put it this way. Would a free kick be awarded to USA at half way for this? Yes IMO as the German player makes the first contact. Did it deserve a caution? That part can be debated as whether it was tactical or not. Certainly there were enough German shirts around to deal with the subsequent play had it came to pass.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jay,
I think because I was so incredulous that the American defender never got sent off for the previous USA HOLDING foul I was even more upset with this one by the German defender as I believed initially it was a DFK OUTSIDE the PA not a PK inside. I saw this as a charging, tripping foul not a holding foul even though the collision that created the foul had the forward momentum of the American player falling inside the PA. It could appear that FIFA is ok with considering this a continued holding foul given I have heard no comments from official sources that were upset at the interpretation but then no comments on the decision NOT to send off earlier. It is true that by reversing your direction when shielding the ball or putting up outstretched arms across the chest and pushing back that is in fact a holding foul even if no shirt grabbing by the hands occurred. Then again,perhaps this situation is strictly ITOOTR or later some official guidelines may evolve from this decision. Now that my emotions are not so biased as a spectator I can see using the referee view, justification for a holding foul perception instead of a charging foul given impeding is a blocking action it is certainly feasible to see actual physical contact be considered as holding the opponent back from advancing . The only foul we are told to consider as ...continuous... is in fact the holding foul. All others point of contact or point of the misconduct. I might be incorrect but admittedly I would have awarded only a DFK!

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Jay, I am going to take a more liberal approach than my colleagues and say that you may be correct here. Attackers are often conditioned to just dish the ball and then run into a defender in an effort to draw the foul. I believe that in the USA vs Columbia game that is exactly what Morgan did and not only did she draw a PK, but she also drew a send off. My interpretation when I initially saw it live was that Morgan just ran into a defender (that had already established that position). The defender did not even have her head turns toward Morgan when she fouled. I believe that she was just making a play at the ball. Now, this does not mean that it cannot be a foul. If the German defender stepped in front of Morgan in an effort to block her path then we have impeding the progress of an opponent. Or if it causes a collision like it did, we then have a direct free kick foul as my colleagues described. When I saw the replay, I was a little more convinced that it was an actual foul as the German player did make a lunge in Morgan's direction. I do believe that us referees need to be careful though for those attackers that are just going to dish a ball out and then run into a defender in an effort to draw a PK. What also surprised me about this is that the referee didn't go have a discussion with her ARs. She was very set on calling the penalty kick. In this case, it is a great idea to use you're AR and see what they saw. I agree with my colleagues that when in doubt, call the DFK. The overall consensus in the referee world is that it was a foul and should have been a DFK. I appreciate your initial question on did Morgan just run into the defender because I think that is something that needs more discussion in the refereeing world. I personally am not awarding PKs to attackers that just dish a ball and then run into a defender without making any effort to move away. I may be in the minority on this.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

This was absolutely and unquestionably a foul by the German player. Watch her hip. If she doesn't take down Morgan, Morgan might zip by her (as she did earlier). Referees remember earlier plays and watch to see how the slower defender will respond.

Note: the German player had no issue with the call - but she immediately protested that the foul was outside the penalty area.

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