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Question Number: 31638

Other 7/9/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Mitch of Ottawa, Ontario Canada asks...

This is a question related to sportsmanship. I finished a U17 Boys match and the teams chose to come and shake mine and my assistants' hands. The procession went fine until the last player (the keeper) who stuck out his hand and then removed it when he was about to shake hands with me. I cautioned him for unsporting behaviour and that set off his coaches who said that there isn't anything in the rules about refusing to shake hands in a line-up. I told their coach that sportsmanship is the key ingredient that makes it 'the beautiful game' and it is my duty to protect its integrity whenever players show a lack of it. Your thoughts are welcomed!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mitch
Your call really as an unsporting behaviour caution covers a multiple. Sticking out his hand to withdraw it on a handshake can be considered dissent by action. I suspect that demeanour by the player was unpleasant as well. Ignoring a player or the referee at a handshake is disrespectful and showing a lack of sportsmanship which in itself is not unsporting behaviour.
Personally I would not have cautioned the player as the game is effectively over and the action childish. The CRs may require a handshake line up yet that needs to be managed in a way that causes no further issues for the game. Emotions can be high immediately after a game and to expect the highest standard of sportsmanship though from everyone is ambitious thinking particularly when one team has just lost. As Referee Wright states there is a key difference between unsporting behaviour and not showing sportsmanship. I doubt whether a caution will protect the integrity of the game or sportsmanship as the offenders generally do not react to such sanctions as behaviour changing. Sure even the coaches reaction shows how deep rooted the lack of sportsmanship is in the game. Their reaction is even more discreditable in that they are the people who show and teach integrity, good sportsmanship, etc within the team. I know one senior manager in our National Youth League who would tear strips off the player for his behaviour. He may even be benched for part of the next game. That is a real censure rather than a card.
Over many years I have had some players not shaking hands with me after the game. Nothing unique or new in that. I recall though one incident where a player came forward to what I thought was to shake hands as every player was doing it including his team mates when in fact all they wanted to do was berate me. I extended my hand to which he told me he was not shaking hands and started into a moan about some decisions in the game. I ignored it and told him to be on his way and he was ushered away by team mates. Unless the player acted in a manner that was strong verbal dissent or perhaps being offensive insulting and abusive I just ignore the childish behaviour for what it is. Probably disappointed that my offer of handshake was not accepted but so be it. I did what was right and proper which shows my integrity and respect for the game as there were a few in the game that I would have preferred not to engage with given their behaviour during the game. In a line up though one expects those that line up plan to do so although we have examples of players not shaking hands in such situations.
I might pose this question. Let us say the player was already on a caution for say time wasting. Would you have sent the player off with a red card for a second caution in the same circumstances?
I always like to pose this type of question to referees as it is a good test of the merits of a yellow card in questionable situations that require an opinion rather than those mandated by the Laws. Each referee will have an opinion on the caution which is answered by whether to dismiss or not.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mitch,

Did the player hold his hand out until you went to shake it, then remove his hand? Or just remove his hand as he approached you?

The former is a clear act to ridicule you (and I would have no issues with a card for dissent in that situation - though it's up to the referee on the day). The latter though?

As the coach states, there's no requirement for players to be shaking your hand (unless the competition rules state otherwise). There's a big difference between 'unsporting' and 'not sporting'. The player may not have shown sportsmanship, but that itself doesn't warrant a card. A player refusing to throw the ball to the opponents after they kicked it out for injury isn't sporting - but it doesn't cross the line to an actual unsporting act that is so grossly against the spirit of the game (and the laws) that it requires a sanction.

Similarly, while the player may not have acted in a sporting manner, not shaking a hand doesn't, I would argue, cross the line into actually committing an offence. Players are doing this to try to get in your head without actually saying something actively. I think the best approach is typically just to ignore these players.

Occasionally you'll get players try to be real smart and shake the hands of your AR and not yourself. Players like this want to see a reaction from yourself - I find no reaction is best. If, on the other hand, he's silly enough to say something at the same time well then, that makes it easy to deal with by a card!

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

A laugh and a short comment about integrity and an age identifier are you 2 with the word putz comes to mind? You have the power to caution and no one can dispute your opinion if you perceive it that way! Attitude and disrespect certainly irritate but then look at the person in the light of maturity. I simply shrug laugh and shake my head. Why waste time on a fool! UNLESS he presses the issue to expand it into more, just ignore!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

I officiate other sports including basketball, baseball and American football. In these sports, there is no shaking of the hands with officials. In fact, officials are told to get off the field as soon as the game ends. The same is true for high school and college soccer that is played in the U.S. The reason for this no shaking of the hands requirement is because in some instances, the shaking of the hands results in unsporting acts much worse than you encountered in your situation. When officials have been involved in the shaking of the hands, I have seen arguments and fights occur that would not have happened if the officials would have left the field. Another problem with the official shaking of the hands is that officials may appear to be more friendly to one of the teams or coaching staffs which have led to concerns raised by the other team. I really do not see any benefit gained by the officials shaking hands with the teams, and do recommend that this practice be stopped. However, please note that this is my personal opinion. I hope that you have a successful seas

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