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Question Number: 30834

High School 9/29/2016

RE: High School

sam of oakland, ca usa asks...

Can an assistant referee override a center referee's penalty kick call?

Had a situation this past weekend where an attacker in the box went down but it was clearly (from my clear angle as AR) not a penalty kick but I did not want to signal to call the ref over and have a drop ball done in the box instead because that would cause outrage.

And with that in mind, I rarely ever see an assistant referee override a center referee period, even on regular fouls on the field. I know an incorrect whistle would result in a drop ball, but what is the protocol for this, if the center calls a foul but the AR sees that it wasn't one, and how common is it for the AR to do so?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

The referee is the ultimate authority on all facts concerned with play, not the AR. So in the final analysis no, an AR cannot override the referee's decision.

However, if you as an AR, believe the referee has definitely made the wrong decision, you certainly can and should advise her or him of what you have seen. Depending on how sure the referee was, of the decision they made, they may or may not change their decision.

There is an old saying that the AR is there to ''assist, not insist.'' So once you have made your views on the matter known, the referee still has the overall authority and you cannot countermand that authority.

There was an interesting incident in a recent EPL game where the 'reverse' scenario occurred. An incident occurred in the penalty area and the referee waved away the penalty appeals. A moment later (and clearly on the advice of his AR) the referee reversed his decision and awarded the penalty.

As you say, it is relatively rare for a referee to change an 'on-field' decision based on input from the AR (though the opposite is probably true for decisions on the ball in and out of play) and I think it has a lot to do with the referee's working relationship with the AR. Usually, unless the referee has full and total confidence in the competence of the assistant, the chances are high that the referee may choose to stick with the original decision, especially on something as important and potentially match-changing as a penalty call.

You also ask about the protocol to follow. Although not designed for exactly the scenario you describe, the following advice (slightly modified from wording in the LotG) I think could be applicable:

''When an [incident] occurs which requires a signal from the AR, the AR must:

- raise the flag [...]
- make eye contact with the referee
- give the flag a slight wave back and forth (avoiding any excessive or aggressive movement)''

The Laws also advise that AR's should only intervene when:

''the offence was out of the referee’s view or the referee’s view was obstructed''

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Sam
The answer depends on a number of factors which include
1. The instructions given by the referee before the game on penalty calls to the assistant referees.
2. The position of the foul along with the position of the referee.
3. Less so but also a factor is the relationship with the referee and his confidence in his ARs decision making.
On the first one the referee may want to make 99.99% of the penalty calls and all he requires is help on the positioning of the foul either inside or outside the penalty area.
If the foul is only yards away from the referee with him having a clear view then an AR say 30 yards away should not be flagging for a foul.
On the last point which is a lesson that FIFA has learned by using teams of 3 who regularly officiate together is that a referee will have more confidence of the correct call from an assistant that he has long experience of working with and it is assistants that he trusts for their judgement. Referee Howard Webb had the same two ARs for many years and no doubt built up a strong relationship.
Referee Grove mentions an incident recently in the English Premier League. In the Hull City v Arsenal game there was a penalty call against Arsenal. The referee initially ignored it and I believe he clearly saw the incident. His lead AR then signalled for the penalty which was given belatedly. I am not sure the CR wanted the flag yet he took it which was probably from an experienced AR that he was not going to ignore or wave down. It would have been interesting to hear the discussion in the changing room afterwards.
Now here is an incident that happened in Scotland a number of tears ago.
The referee awarded the penalty and then there was communication between the referee and his AR. Now there was much debate about the incident as to the manner of the change and what was said between the officials. The AR went to the penalty kick position which tells me that he agreed.
Now what should happen is that the AR if he not in agreement with the call should stand his ground and not move to his penalty kick position. That should alert the referee that his AR is not in agreement with the call. Eye contact needs to be made and the AR beckons the CR across to tell him what he saw. Depending on that discussion the referee either confirms the decision or goes with a dropped ball or whatever restart is appropriate.

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