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Question Number: 31178

Law 5 - The Referee 1/14/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australis asks...

The LOTG state:

Law 5 now allows the referee to send a player off before the kick-off (from the pre-match inspection of the field of play onwards).

Questions is around how far in advance of the scheduled start time of a match can we deem as 'before kick off'.
As time is very limited between matches at the local 'park footy' level, i might begin a pre match inspection shortly before the previous match has begun.

What if I observed opposing players giving each other an absolute verbal earful while I am walking around the field do an inspection, or worse - some physical 'differences'. This might be 10 minutes prior to actual kick off.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
There were some in the game that believed that a referee could not take disciplinary action before the game started and that the players had to be on the field of play to do so. The infamous Roy Keane / Patrick Vieira incident in the tunnel at Highbury was cited. I, like many, did not subscribe to that understanding that the players could not have been sent off had it escalated into VC before KO. Anyway the current wording is to deal with such incidents formally.
My view is that the referee should be mindful of what is going on before kick off yet we are not present all the time to view. However I would not be too concerned about verbals between team mates and we have all heard plenty of stories of VC in changing rooms between players, technical staff etc and it only emerged later.
Now the Law states that the referee * has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match ends (including kicks from the penalty mark) If, before entering the field of play at the start of the match, a player commits a sending-off offence, the referee has the authority to prevent the player taking part in the match (see Law 3.6); the referee will report any other misconduct.* That change should IMO be taken in its entirety? So for me misconduct is only reported yet it is not part of the game and that the referee has powers to prevent a player from playing for a sending off offence.
I would not be getting involved in team discipline issues in the warm up. I would however get involved in opposing players indiscipline and I would deal sternly with any pre match VC.
Thankfully it is a rare event and I have only heard of one such incident involving team mates which was ignored by the referee. It turned out to be the 'best' decision in the circumstances.
So the Law is there for the benefit of the referee and to support any action that he may deem necessary. In disciplinary situations, always do the least that is necessary to control the situation. One does not need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut or to swat flies with a 12-gauge shotgun.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russell ,
Perhaps consider the VALUE of undertaking any action?
Having authority and using the power is a compromise of principle in managing versus dictatorship.
If we take the extreme!
The guy is running about screaming obscenities and chucking the corner flag like a javelin at the anyone chances are that guy needs a police escort not just a send off.
A a squabble between team mates or an opponent trash talk session.

Youth leagues can have conduct codes and you might find use in those! Generally the association is supposed to policing itself when it come to responsible conduct of any member.

A referee acts in the best interest of the safety and match. He is not a moral pillar of obtuse behaviour although he or she should conduct themselves with integrity on or off the FOP.

In my many years on the pitch as an official I rarely intervened prior to the match start other than to conduct pre-match inspections and answer a few questions to eliminate some confusion about laws, competition rules or guidelines. There is of course always a few incidents that catch your attention or raise your ire!>

I recall one team running around the outside of the pitch to warm up as the other team was shooting balls at their keeper . One player pounded the ball very hard but wide and caught an unsuspecting jogging opponent hard against the side of the face. It flat laid him out. Now I had a SUSPICION the ball was struck wide on purpose , primarily based on the overheard comments ridiculing the run around, however,I could not be absolutely sure. Now from a VIDEO perspective I am sure it looked funny but the player was HURT! The ball caught him square across the ear, the side of his face was beet red and marked and he was crying. The peals of laughter and finger pointing irritated me at the lack of compassion and my niggling sense it was not ENTIRELY accidental. I initially had gone over to check on the injured player realized how upset his teammates were at the conduct of the opponents who were ridiculing rather than displaying any form of sportsmanship. I went over to the young player giggling away and showed him a yellow card for USB . Very deliberately explaining to him ,his team , coach and the surrounding spectators although I was carding his behaviour to what had occurred if I was certain it was done on purpose I would have sent him off for VC. I reminded him I had overheard some earlier comments made by him and others. Further more I had observed the missed shots directed at the goal every time the opponents came around running, a high percentages seemed to be struck wide with considerable force and no cries of look out!
Now some could argue the warm up was unsafe and I should have prevented this! The fact they opponents ran in behind when the other team was shooting it was their fault. They both have some merit inlaying blame but conduct on or off the field before or after the match . Laughing at injured players is in my opinion no laughing matter unless you are watching funniest home videos. Compassion, be it even a marginal I am sorry mate! I might have not shown the card ! And YES I should have spoke up the moment I saw the first shot go screaming in at the jogging opponents of hey guys lets be careful and give a heads up ok?


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell, Although you have not quoted the law verbatim, you almost have, so the answer is pretty much as stated in your question. The actual wording says that the referee:

''has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection ...''

There is no specified time limit.

As my colleagues have indicated, some discretion should be used in deciding to invoke this authority but it is there nevertheless.

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