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Question Number: 30445

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/22/2016

RE: Professional

mirorose of Kota Bharu, Kelantan Malaysia asks...

I want to know if referee can make decision base on after effect injury. Scenario are like this. If two players involve in off the ball incident, and ref at first don't give any decision (play on) because he don't see the incident but suddenly one of the player show the ref that his head are bleeding because of the incident (headbutt), can ref show red card for the player that cause the headbutt even ref don't see the incident at first place?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

That should not happen particularly in the unseen incident. However the *evidence* may sway the referee to change his mind on an incident that has been witnessed.
In the recent Brighton v Middlesbrough EPL game there was a foul by a Brighton player. The referee Mike Dean was seen holding a yellow card and his attention was attracted by the injured Boro player to his shin injury. Referee Dean when he saw the deep gash to the players leg was seen to put away the yellow and instead dismissed the player for serious foul play. I believe the injury swayed the referee.
Now in the case of unseen violent conduct that should never be decided based on evidence. If it is unseen then I do not know how the referee can write a report to say what he saw and the reason for a dismissal. If it is missed then so be it. If a referee is on his own he does not assistants or a 4th official to assist him to come to correct decision. Where an AR or 4th official is the witness to the VC then part of the sending off report will be completed by the AR or 4th official.
I recall a game a few season ago where I believe a player may have struck an opponent behind my back. I was unable to dismiss as I did not see it although I had very strong suspicions. I was even told that by a player at the time. It could though have been a strong chest push to the ground. I told the captain that I was not happy about this and I would be adopting a zero tolerance on the players behaviour from that moment on. The team substituted him immediately. If I sent him off I could not have written a truthful statement of what happened.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


Typically, if the referee does not see an incident, he can not take any action unless someone else on the refereeing team saw the incident. So, in your scenario above, unless the AR or 4th official saw a 'headbutt' the referee really should not punish the supposed offender. There is a great story of something very similar to this that I was told a few years ago.

The referee was in charge of a contentious international match. Both teams were playing hard but mostly fair, however there were some international tensions between the nations. About the 20' of the game, a player approaches the referee showing him that an opponent had spit on his jersey and demanding that the player be sent off. The referee strongly considered it but told the player that since he did not see the incident, he can not send off the opposing player. The game continued and finished without issue. After the game, the assessor asked the referee about that incident and commented that he was glad no action was taken as the player had spit on himself.

Hopefully that illustrates why a referee can not take action for something he didn't see. That said, assuming there is a foul and the referee was initially leaning towards no card, the referee can adjust the decision based on the severity of the injury (ie blood, substitution, etc.)

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