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Question Number: 31819

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/24/2017

RE: Competitive Under 13

Peter of Stockton, Ca Usa asks...


This week end I was center referee at a competitive u12 game. I had two new to competitive ARs.

A situation developed within the penalty area where two players were challenging for the ball. There was no excessive force that I could see but both players ended up on the ground' I let play continue but the AR signaled for a foul. The parents close to the AR started their usual shouting.

I asked the AR to signal the direction of the restart,me pointed up field. I confirmed with 'ball to green', at which the AR shook his head in the negative. So, I ask him, 'ball to black' (I was thinking that perhaps since we had just had half time the AR might have made a simple 'who is playing which way' error. Again the AR shook his head.

I call the ar to the side (away from the baying parents) to ascertain what had happened. The AR (who had done two another games with me that day, and quite well) told me sheepishly that he called the foul as both players had gone down but now was uncertain as to who actually committed the foul as they sort of tripped each other.

I told him that was fine, and restarted with a drop ball.

After the game I spoke with the ar and gave the advice that in future, in a case like this is was best to either 'just let it go' or if the play was considered dangerous call the doubt for the defending team - note a call for the attacking team would have been a penalty as the offense occurred just inside the area.

Two questions in one: was the restart the correct one or should I have awarded a free kick to the defending team, and with that was my advice to the AR correct?



Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
The unwanted flag. This could all be easily prevented if the AR had followed the maxim that it is the CRs game to call and if the CR has a clear uninterrupted view of contact between the players then let the referee call it.
I would certainly not advise an AR to make a call based on the nature of the contact in favour of one team or another. It is either a foul or not and if it is a coming together then ignore it.
As regards the restart you were in correct in law as a foul committed by both players at the same time has a DB restart. That is rare as generally one foul happens first. It could also be deemed to be an erroneous flag for which play is stopped which is also a dropped ball.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
it is good that you took the time to confer (PRIVATELY) well done for that. I dislike prying ears or eyes trying to add input! Always wave away those that try to overhear. You extended the AR credit based on the assumption he saw something you did not . So was he a great deal closer? Did you not see what he saw? Was he at a much better angle? My colleague references the fact the CR is in charge and the AR should support the decisions or offer input ONLY when it is clearly warranted and as directed by the CR.

The reactions of the AR are likely based on nervousness and some touchline prompting. It takes a while to be confident and feel good about when you pop the flag so your guts says that it WAS the correct call. Foul recognition , not bending to pressure when the roar goes for the contact entice early or premature flags from lesser skilled ARs reacting rather than evaluating situations.

Your drop ball to extradite yourself was the only real choice you had given the weak explanation provided by the AR. I do recall a harsh collision by two big rangy players was a good solid meeting they kind of bounced off one another. The parent acting as flagman raised the flag which I waved down . I asked what was I to call he replied not sure but that was certainly something because with heavy meaty sound reverberating across the pitch he just felt somebody had done something wrong. You might award a restart for throw in to one team unsure of who last touched it but it is not a good idea to flip a coin to decided s fouls you are unsure off.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,
First off - why weren't you sure which direction the AR was calling a foul in? This should be immediately signalled by which hand the AR is raising the flag. Raises it in the left hand, that's a free kick for the defence, and vice versa (assuming you're running normal bottom-left lines). The question shouldn't need to be asked.

That aside, given that your AR wasn't giving you clear information it's good that you did pull him aside to ask the question.

The AR's actions here are are just unacceptable. One hopes that this is a mistake made once and never again. The AR should only be putting the flag up to ASSIST the referee - basically if the AR can see something the ref can't and/or the ref is looking for help. In the Penalty Area in particular, it REALLY needs to be something that the ref has clearly been unsighted or is looking for help. So assuming you, as the ref, had a view of the incident the AR should be leaving this one to you unless you're looking across to indicate that you want help.

Given the confusion at the time, I think stopping play was the right decision - the 'back and forth' between yourself and the AR is likely to confuse players and interfere in play anyway, especially at this young age.

Given play was stopped for a reason that wasn't for a free kick, a drop ball is the correct restart. It sounds like one of those scenarios where 2 players just got tangled up and neither fouled the other. Messy situation, but you handled it well.
I don't like your thinking of 'if play was dangerous call the doubt to the defending team'. Either there was a foul or there wasn't. Call what you see. Not sure? Play doesn't stop.
Sometimes, especially at a young age, the fact that players are on the ground in a crowded area, especially around the ball, can present a dangerous situation that's nobody's fault. We can stop play for a drop ball then.

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