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Question Number: 31351

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/15/2017

RE: Under 19

Jacob Lee-Hart of Wallasey, Merseyside United Kingdom asks...

If a team commits multiple fouls against a single player, can you book a player for a challenge that wouldn't normally be a bookable offence, but is on the player who is repeatedly fouled?

So, say if Eden Hazard is repeatedly fouled by West Ham, could Fonte be booked for his first foul, on the basis of persistent infringements? Cheers.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jacob
Interesting question.
The answer is that the player who fouls an opponent (his first offence) after a series of deliberate fouls could indeed be cautioned yet the sanction would be for unsporting behaviour rather than persistent infringement.
PI is committed by an individual player and it is a series of infringements by the same player. It is not a team offence. However the referee cannot allow a team to systematically foul an opponent and that the offender is not sanctioned because of different player each time that commits the foul. The player that does get caution may be the unfortunate one yet he has to be aware of the pattern of fouls and that it is likely to be sanctioned by the referee.
In the game between Chelsea and Manchester United Hazard was also fouled on a number of times by different player. Jones had just been warned by Referee Oliver that a pattern was developing and that he was going to take action. From the very next play Herrera made a careless challenge on Hazard and he picked up a second yellow for which he was sent off. Maybe if the foul had happened after a lengthy period of no offences he referee might have let it slide with a warning.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jacob
the idea of persistent infringement as a team tactic is one well known by the best players in the league where the opposition looks to slow or take him out of sync with repeated foul play. Now the LOTG allow referees broad discretionary powers in determining reasons to show a yellow card for acts of USB When we match up the reasoning of why a card is shown in our match report Usually a series of symbols denoting the listed reasons why a card is shown. I have seen and used C6 stated as the reason in these rare cases even as my colleague Ref McHugh correctly identifies some of the usual parameters. Persistent infringement is often a targeting of indiscriminate fouling by a single player against the the opposing team in as it becomes a single player fouling another or a complete team fouling a single player. Note the addendum to C6
c6 = persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game (no specific number or
pattern of infringements constitutes "persistent")

c7 = unsporting behaviour

I have used C6 as the justification for showing a yellow card for a series of fouls by a single player on multiple opponents just not for a multitude of players against a single opponent . Yet C7 is the catch all for events that lie within the discretionary powers where a referee does what he thinks best for the good of the game! I hold the opinion the caution would be upheld no matter the designation but a USB designation would fit the crime.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jacob,
Going strictly by the letter of the law this cannot be classed as persistent infringement as the law refers specifically to offences by an individual player but as I just mentioned in another answer, the law sometimes uses slightly different meanings for phrases (often more narrow in scope). So if you use the term in a broader sense rather than the way the law defines it, this could be seen as a form of persistent infringement. Under the Laws of the Game though, as my colleagues have pointed out, it would be classified as unsporting behaviour.

There used to be an 'Advice to Referees' document published by the USSF (since discontinued) that I didn't always agree with, but which in this scenario, I think got it about right. It said:

''The referee must also recognize when a single opponent has become the target of fouls by multiple players. [...] upon recognizing the pattern, the referee should clearly indicate that the pattern has been observed and that further fouls against this opponent must cease. If another player commits a foul against the targeted opponent, that player must be cautioned but, in this case, the misconduct should be reported as unsporting behavior, as must any subsequent caution of any further foul against that same targeted opponent. Eventually, the team will get the message.''

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