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Question Number: 32355

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/7/2018

RE: High School

bob of los angeles, ca usa asks...

Something I have had trouble with as a referee is keeping track of players for persistent infringement. I'm fine with giving a caution on a one time play, but unless it is very obvious and blatant, I really have a lot of trouble keeping track of foul totals on both sides on players in a match to give a yellow for PI. I know you can also give one for many payers fouling one player ex. a very skilled one but that's not a problem for me.

Recording every number for each foul then seeing the tally obviously isn't feasible. What is your advice?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Bob,
Experience teaches us that the LOTG are not an exact science more so a blending of religion, arts and science in how to perceive a matches' requirements.

You realize they do actually record every single foul at the top levels? .
In grass roots if ARs are present, ask they keep an eye on the match, try to give & get information when you stop play for what and who.

Like, 17 red that was late be careful. No need to push 14 green the ball was already on its way out. Watch the studs blue 11. Or if the event was in fact significant but not yet cardable requiring a stern warning or talk session or dressing down is in order be sure to share it with the ARs /4th.

Note your ARs are there to offer support & you should be communicating to them as they watch your back. Often the start of these persistent fouls is when one on one battles occur prior to either actually getting to the ball holding or impeding to say break up breakaway runs into space and if a ball is delivered then a push or pull or trip to end it. Your ARs might notice even before you do. When you decide to stop play but NOT card perhaps only to WARN the player make sure the ARs know as well. The AR might point out that every time the player started his run he shoved the defender out of the way or the defender is impeding him unfairly. It gives you the impetus to do the head swivel back in behind checks where the interaction is hidden from your sight

One other thought is the opposition if they feel they are being targeted or note the same guy from the other team is a hack artist they will generally give you an earful as well. We are trained not to be affected by dissent but only a obstinate referee denies the groundswell of trouble brewing.

PI is an offence that you as referee will NOT usually have to go looking for it should be rather obvious. Think a moment, PERSISTENT, like the buzzing of flies, is annoying, is there anyone on the FOP that is annoying you other than the douche bag screaming from the stands that you suck?

I found as I became accustomed to reading play, anticipation, getting a feel of the players tolerance and level of acceptance I gradually over time just noted when things were out of whack they tended to make themselves known?

Keep the single player who commits a series of fouls during a short time or multiple times in the match as real PI separate from the USB behaviour of a team that targets an opponent for persecution to throw him off his game. Similar in context but differently interpreted.

The fact is if #4 blue is the key to blue offence and all you see is blue #4 picking himself off the ground every time he goes near or has the ball red flags should be going off, your radar should be pinging and the ARs singing a similar song.
I usually warn the opposition captain that I am tired of seeing this player on the ground and if I see it again the one responsible may have some explaining to do? I suggest you NEVER threaten the use of cards it is more useful to IMPLY that there are consequences for actions undertaken! ALWAYS try to maintain options otherwise failure to act on what you say could undercut the respect or control you hope to instill.

PI is an individual form of misconduct that shows itself in multiplicity & timing.

You can have a single player foul 5 times in a match at 2.03 21:09 42:14 67:28 89:47 and offer no card. The player was on and off the radar but in a pattern or setting that he simply slid in under the radar. The fouls were careless and perhaps not tactical or note worthy .

You could have another player foul at 4:53 11:36 and 17:45 and you show a card BECAUSE the first foul was a bit late but the 2nd foul you almost carded him as it was borderline reckless but a stern warning, now 6 minutes later here is, chances are a card is due as his annoying face is in front of you again in such a short time in such a way that the last incident is recalibrated in this new one!

In todays modern game we are asked not to stop play for niggle foul or trifling soft or doubtful instances so although we do have careless fouls often they are tactical in nature or performed with forceful and unsafe misconduct to be deemed egregious warranting card intervention on merit alone never mind regularity.

When a tough tackle is laid down to where you warn, "Guys be careful that was very sickly looking rather yellowish but here is a break" Or if you apply advantage and there is cautionable actions to be undertaken at the next stoppage be sure you let your ARs know in case that same player chooses to get back into the play or you forget. To yell out so your ARS can hear " Hey #15 red you are in the book or we will chat in a moment" if at all possible to assist with remembering who is involved

Note to remember though if a player fouls an opponent where the severity of the foul is transparent cards are needed then not after 3 times the same type.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Bob,
This is something I've struggled with as well. And don't forget you need to include advantages here!
You just really need to keep consciously making an effort to deliberately remember who is involved in fouls. Maybe it's a number, maybe it's keeping in mind identifying characteristics - unique shoes, worst haircut in the back line, that sort of thing. Do that and players will start to stand out a little more. And you'll start to think 'hang on, I blew a foul for bright orange shoes 5 minutes ago'.
Persistent infringement isn't an exact number of infringements - it's a bit of an art form and a feel for the game. And it's not something you're likely to give a lot of cards for - but I suggest try making a conscious effort to talk to yourself, in your mind, about what's happening. That should help things sink in.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
Thanks for the question.
As you know cards are a tool that are available to the referee to ensure the game is played as it should be and to keep match control.
The persistent infringement card is one of those tools that allows a referee to caution a player who perhaps does not commits the reckless tackle / tactical foul yet it constantly committing minor fouls which stops the flow of the game and frustrates opponents.
Now it is not about keeping a tally of fouls yet looking at the totality of the players action. A player as Referee Dawson points out could commit 4/5 fouls over the total game and not get carded whereas a player could commit three minor fouls in quick succession and get carded for PI.
What has helped me over the years is looking at the total actions rather than the number. A fullback who is intent on stopping a winger with a series of minor fouls will perhaps begin to frustrate his opponent. He gets on my radar as a player who is intent on stopping his opponent at all costs. The attacking team will also start to get annoyed with the stop / start nature of the game.
So for me once the player starts coming to my attention on fouls I will speak with the player to inform him that he is committing way too many fouls and that it needs to stop or action will be taken. That word with the player is twofold in that it tells everyone that the actions are treading a thin line on discipline and also a recording in my mind that I have already spoken to the player. Once the next foul happens it is a card which can be for the tackle or PI. The referee might hear that it is a soft card to which the reply is * he was warned but paid no heed*
Two other features in this space are also worth considering.
One is the targeting of the star player who is getting constantly fouled and perhaps by a series of different player. The player is getting fouled persistently so the referee has to deal with that through the use of cards. A player might be *unlucky* to get cautioned yet it is a team game and he has to bear the consequences of his action.
The other is constant team fouling. I watched Stoke City V Tottenham yesterday and at one stage every challenge was a foul by Stoke and all were low level trips, pushes, slight charges etc. Stoke seemed to want to frustrate the opponents by breaking up the flow of the game. The referee eventually spoke with the Stoke captain after another foul I suspect to tell him that his patience was wearing thin and sure enough the next foul was a caution. Interestingly it was Stokes undoing as Spurs scored from one of the free kicks in an attacking position.
While watching the game I could see that the fouls were having a negative effect on the game plus the home fans were getting frustrated as they thought that the referee was being overly harsh giving so many fouls against Stoke and few for so it was also raising the mood of the game negatively which was not good.
The PI card can be used here although probably reported as unsporting behaviour / conduct.

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