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Question Number: 32104

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/16/2017

RE: General Other

Aaron of Houston, TX USA asks... At 2:46, there is a blatant pull on the jersey. Yet there referee does not signal advantage and does not seem like they would call this even out side the penalty box. Should a penalty kick be called?

From the Laws of the Game:

LAW 5: ADVANTAGE allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage and penalises the offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds

LAW 12: A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences:

-holds an opponent

Obviously, a team will be advantaged by a penalty kick than advantage in this case. I predict your answers will be this is trifling. But, is it trifling if the player that had their jersey pulled, flopped and unnecessarily fell down?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Aaron
The video due to copyright is not viewable in Europe.
Without seeing the incident I watched the full game live and I have no recollection of a clear penalty kick decision for a jersey pull. Sky Sports reviewed two penalty calls in the game with former referee Dermot Gallagher and he felt both decisions were correct. The jersey pull one did not feature?
For what it is worth I would suggest the following
1. The referee crew did not see the incident. Without technology many incident go unnoticed in real time and only picked up by cameras. In Uniteds previous game there was an incident involving Lukaku where he attempted to kick am opponent as a goal was being scored. It was not picked up until that evening when the match was no doubt being reviewed. Had it been seen on the FOP it was at least a caution and the goal disallowed with a free kick to the defence.
2. I constantly see shirt tugs by players who seem to do this instinctively, unaware that they are fouling. The opponent is also unaware of the action and many times ignores it
3. Some Pro players go down much too easily on limited contact looking to win a penalty. Some referees threshold on a foul can be higher when it looks like the player is trying to win a penalty. I would suspect that it can depend on the player involved. Earlier in the game there was a blatant attempt to win a penalty by a City player Gabriel Jesus that was ignored. There appeared to be some limited contact which was exaggerated by the player inside the penalty area who went to ground. It was ignored by the referee and I felt grounds for a caution for simulation. Similarly late on Herrera of United tried to win a penalty and he was correctly cautioned.
Just finished watching Tottenham and Manchester City. Clear two handed push by Rose of Spurs on a City player inside the penalty area that was ignored by Referee Poulson. Comment by the pundit was that it was a foul anywhere else on the FOP. The referee decided he was not giving a penalty for it as I suspect he felt it was soft with no affect on play. City player did not make a big deal about it and stood on his feet.
We know that if games were to refereed by video there would be umpteen decisions changed, many more cards, many more free kicks / penalties awarded, goals disallowed etc. As we have it at the moment the game is refereed with limited use of technology and incidents are missed, wrong calls are made etc.
As regards a jersey pull that bring a player to ground it is not trifling and a clear foul with a direct free kick or penalty kick restart. Inside the penalty area the best advantage is a penalty kick and the best decision is a 'wait and see' and if there is no advantage presenting then the penalty should be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Aaron,
Are you referring to the tug on the MC player Sterling where he pulled away from #12 MU player and shot wide? The 1-0 match between WHU & Chelsea had a similar grab this was at the underarm but it appeared the attacker went down too easily to get the nod. I noticed the MC player Sterling shrugged it off in his match and did not seem aggrieved. In the other the Chelsea player seemed livid but if acting, did so poorly.

As my colleague Ref McHugh points out there is a lot of clutching and grabbing going on, sometimes I believe the players do not even realize the effect it has.

A nudge at the right time can send the attacker off balance so it does not look like much, but effectively kills the scoring chance as they miskick or squib it wide. Whether a referee determines the event worthy of the PK or free kick or simply sees it as trifling or does not see it at all there is a shameful display by far too many players to try and manage these situations into something far more by diving.

When there is a situation in the PA that we might see as advantageous to wait and see we generally do not signal or blow a whistle we AWAIT an outcome. If it seems a worthy fair outcome of the event we might decline the call & go with play on. . If we feel the event was too egregious to overlook, and prevented the opportunity we blow for the free kick.

Although the discretionary powers of referee are not to be taken lightly for what one referee does, sets a bar for others. Consistency is a difficult thing from match to match more so during the match is it really defined by the character of the individual at centre circle. I often point out to players and coaches alike the referee is part of the match conditions, like the weather or pitch surface, you mange around the conditions, you can not change them! I believe most of the referees work very hard at being fair even if one team feels the wind is in their face or the ground uphill. A referee with integrity sees what he sees! Yet I can tell you we rarely SIGNAL advantage in the PA in case the shooter misses because a goal is about the only result stopping the PK from being granted!

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