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Question Number: 30466

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/30/2016

RE: Competitive (Tier 1) Under 19

Sharleen of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada asks...

My children play on a diverse teams and I was recently at a game (and it has happened in other games I have been to in the past as well) where racial slurs were being made on the field by a couple of players on the opposing team. For example, I have seen it frustrate the player on the receiving end to the point he finally confronts the offending player " in this particular case it was the receiving player that was spoken to and the offending player was not. Players and parents alike become frustrated by all of this of course with good reason in todays society " we should be beyond this. I have in the past assumed that the ref would do something to stop these exchanges in the same way offensive language would be treated (except in my opinion this is worse) but in cases it continues without any interaction on behalf of the ref and seems to be treated as just chirping. I have never witnessed a card. So my assumption is the ref has no control other than to tell the offending player just to stop " but this is not a cardable offence in anyway?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Sharleen,
while context and public content demands some oversight
there is no place for personal attacks of such vulgar foul and abusive behavior in the game. It is not a yellow card for USB, it is a red card for offinabus when used in the context of bigotry and racism. Any official who hears this or witnesses this conduct should not permit it to continue and punish the culprits responsible. This include interrupting the match if such conduct occurs outside the field as well. Accountability and responsibility of the coaches and teams to conduct themselves and their fans accordingly.

What is said is judged by the why and how it is delivered. As in any verbal utterance what is said is not always meant as a slur or attack, even if inappropriate so at times a warning or yellow card might be warranted for a even a praise, great goal you curry loving bastard is not as send-offable as you stinking raghead but certainly worth a moment to quiet such talk as inappropriate. If your foot was stepped on and you uttered you black bastard as opposed to God Damn N-ger one earns a reprimand the other likely a red card send off for offinabus

Of course being referred to as a dumb 'newfie' as a derogatory term. It typically is used to mean someone from Newfoundland, like calling someone from New Zealand a 'kiwi'. But it has also traditionally been used in a lot of jokes to refer to someone as a bit slow-witted and backward. Kind of like a 'dumb blonde' or 'redneck' does to some people.

As for the French, there are plenty of names, and many are used back and forth with English Canada. For example, someone from English Canada may call a Quebecer a 'frog' and the French person might call an anglophone a 'tete carre' (literally a square head). And most French swear words use Catholic religious symbols like chalice, tabernacle, Christ, and so on.

Some Canadians consider one insult is to be mistaken for an American. lol
If a dark skinned individual was to use the term "cracker" for his lighter counterpart somehow being a fluffy soft biscuit is supposed to be cutting. The point is no matter who or how an exchange starts a referee must intervene and put a stop to it!

The usually curse words in se be it starting with M F or C are what they are and often used in adult matches as exclamations of despair as well as being personally directed at another so context is important. The term Hindu is used racially but inaccurately as it refers to religion not a race. Jib-tec and skin head are again insults that skirt racial boundaries.

I agree with you it is frustrating if the official allows these personal attacks to go unsanctioned can easily cause reprisals and unnecessary ugliness. I encourage ALL participants to not engage and support the referee to eradicate this behaviour at every opportunity.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sharleen
There is no place in the game for racism and from the very highest level down there are strenuous efforts to eradicate racism from the game. Show Racism the Red Card is one such initiative in this part of the world. FIFA has its Say No to Racism programme.
Now for a referee spoken words between players can be extremely difficult to detect as player that engage in this totally unacceptable behaviour ensure that they are not heard. I have had complaints about racist comment to players and had I heard same I would have no hesitation in red carding the offender. I have told the complainer that I did not hear the words yet I will pay special attention to the player. I try to get close to that player when he is involved in play or afterwards at say a restart / stoppage when player engage in verbals. The offence carries a lengthy ban in this part of the world.
I would also point out that if the referee hears the racist comment he cannot ask a player to desist. He must dismiss for this. I would also concur with Referee Wright. It would be worthwhile writing to the club or the League highlighting this serious offence. Clubs have a responsibility to ensure it does not happen. Referees only deal with the censure when it occurs and heard by the match official.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Sharleen,
FIFA have tried to encourage a zero tolerance on racism approach in the game, and associations pass the same message down.
As you said, sometimes the player receiving the comment starts to 'square up to' the opponent. Well, whether it's in response to racism or something like a late tackle or sneaky jab to the ribs, if the referee misses the first incident but spots the retaliation, it's the retaliation that will be dealt with. Of course, even if the first incident is dealt with the referee should still take a dim view of retaliation! Players are always wholly responsible for their responses.
If the players are hearing racial slurs and the referee seems to be missing it, might be worth calmly bringing it to the referee's attention at halftime.
It may also be worth writing a complaint to the league.
Sometimes a comment may be made which is heard but simply isn't interpreted as a racial or ethnic slur - and the context of the local area is probably relevant here. I'm sure there are plenty of comments that I simply wouldn't recognise as an ethnic slur against a number of ethnicities, simply because it's rare to hear them, or perhaps the term is used differently in my country compared to, say, the UK, or Germany, or Brazil.

Sometimes there is a fine line - although I suspect from your post it's not the 'fine line' we're talking about here. In Australia we have a lot of English players (and there's always a bit of rivalry and banter between our nations) - if, for instance, an Australian player told somebody with a British accent to go back to his own country, does this warrant a red card? No doubt, if the same comment was made to somebody of clear ethnic heritage it would be perceived as much more hostile! In that vein, a colleague from the UK recently advised me that 'Mick' is often used in a derogatory manner against the Irish. I would have to take his word for it - because if that came up on the field I wouldn't have recognised it as such, because it isn't a typical comment down here.

In short though, racism and similar derogatory comments (such as sexist or homophobic comments/slurs) should be met with a red card for Offensive, Insulting And / Or Abusive language and/or gestures.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

As mentioned by my colleagues, if the ref heard racial or ethnic slurs, it would be a red card for offensive, insulting or abusive language.

The problem is that players are sneaky, and they often utter such vile remarks when the ref cannot hear.

I read a story from one ref who couldn't act because he hadn't heard it. While commiserating with the player about not sending off the opponent he said, 'You know, he's only doing it to get to you.' That made all the difference in the target player's attitude. I think that was probably an adult game though; younger players might not understand as well.

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