Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 32019

Law 5 - The Referee 11/13/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Red Rufus of Atlanta, Georgia USA asks...

Small field co-ed Rec game, one center, no ARs. Team A is attacking and a player from team B dispossesses Team A player in the penalty area fairly and plays a long ball forward. I turned to follow the ball but it goes out of play for a team A throw. As the ball is going out of play I hear a commotion behind me and I turn back and the Team B player is laying on the floor in distress and player he dispossessed is running away from him. There is immediate uproar from team B players claiming an off the ball incident. After checking on the injured player who has a 'boy' issue I called over the Team A player to have a talk, I am 100% certain from his demeanor and the reaction of players from both teams that he took a cheap shot, however as I did not see it with my own eyes I did not caution him, just told him to cut it out and that I would be watching him very carefully for the rest of the game and restarted with the throw. I am reasonably confident that that was the only action I could take but as I thought it over after the game I wondered what else if anything I could have done. Thankfully things did not escalate any further. I would welcome comments

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Red
A referee can only give what he sees. If it was a competitive game a referee would have to write a detailed sending off report of what happened. Obviously a referee could not truthfully write what he did not see so the only decision is to accept that it is a missed incident and so be it.
A few years ago I had one of these in a competitive game. The *offenders* captain told me that I did not see the incident so I could not take any action. I told him that he was correct yet I would in no uncertain terms be adopting zero tolerance to the player from that moment on. A short while later the team substituted the player. At the end of the game the opposing manager complained to me that the offender was not sent off to which I apologized and said that as I am on my own I cannot see behind my back and I cannot take action on hearsay to write a sending off report. He accepted that and while obviously unhappy he had to recognise that referees do not have *eyes in the back of the head* on cheap shots as you put it.
Now the referee in such unseen incidents has to keep a particular eye on retribution against the offender. Unfortunately that can mean spending more time looking around and behind along with good positioning when the ball is out of play so that most players are in view.
On the subject some have suggested that none of the referee crew in the infamous Zidane incident actually witnessed the violent conduct and that it was seen by a 5th official on a monitor which was contrary to FIFA rules. It was suggested that the info was conveyed to the referees who took the necessary action. Obviously now with technology and the use of retrospective punishment for unseen match incidents such VC those ars now dealt with after the game by a disciplinary panel.
For us that sometimes are on our own and do not have technology we simply have to give what we see.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Red,
other then recommending the over the shoulder glances at impact situations as part of your management strategy. With No ARs you are limited into your angle of views and line of sights so there will be moments or critical incidents missed especially as a single official. I think your actions were very good!

Given it is RECREATIONAL match & as a SINGLE official with no neutral parties to rely on I have taken the word of the coaches if they admit to fault of their players or the player themselves if they have enough integrity to step forward but it is not easy if they do not step forward to admit guilt.

I would be VERY vocal at my irritation that if I have to worry about cheap shots or liberties being taken as a single official I will be taking a very hard line on any form of behaviour. I also would think of a mandatory substitution might be beneficial because I so much as smell bad breath cards are likely. The warning of abandonment is one that I might mention given a fun recreational match should not be played under the auspices of foul play and treachery in behind our backs.


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Red,
I would say you have handled this correctly. You cannot give a red card (which is what it would have to be if the player did what you suspect) for something you didn't see. Keeping a close eye on the alleged offender thereafter and warning him that you are doing so are also the right things to do. If I were convinced of what took place despite not actually seeing it, I would be prepared to bring the cards out for this player at the first possible opportunity.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32019
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 32025

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.