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Question Number: 32378

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/16/2018

RE: Competitive Under 14

Aaron Speca of Virginia Beach, VA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32374

Referee Joe McHugh said:

'Contact happens when the ball is within playing distance of both players.'

It's close. I'm not sure I agree that the ball was in playing distance when the contact started, but it's close. Question though, in situations like that, does it matter that in order to play the ball one player has to literally go through another player to get to the ball?

'If the player was constantly bundling players over I would have less tolerance.'

For context, #62 had already been carded once by this point in the match.

Referee Richard Dawson said:

'Bio banding is a recent phenomena, that judges players not in age groups dependent upon their chronological age but instead in terms of physical maturation. I suppose it has conceptual advantages but how practical in smaller communities?'

I know this might not be the right forum to discuss pros and cons of the biobanding concept. There are times when I think it is a good idea, but then I think about the fact that just because a kid physically matures faster than others, that doesn't mean that kid is emotionally or mentally ready to play with the older ones. The disparity in 'phyiscal-ness' at the 12-14 year old level can be so huge at times it seems to greatly affect the game, but I suppose it's just a fact of life at that age. For example, this team's entire offensive strategy seemed to be, get the ball in the direction of #62 so he can outrun or outmuscle anyone on the other team - which isn't really good for his teammates. Just some observations.

Anyway, I told my kid not to sweat it, eventually players like that get caught up to, and then their skill will either come around or it won't. My daughter's team had a similar situation with a 'rival squad' that they got to play against a lot over the years. At first most of the opponent girls were much bigger and faster and my daughter's team never won. But they kept working as a team and building their skill level, and then when they physically caught up with that team they beat them every single time. The other team simply kept trying to play the same way and never adjusted.

As always, thank you for what you do!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Aaron
The game has physical contact some of which is legal. Case in point is the legal charge which means that the contact is side to side and the ball is within playing distance of both players. Playing distance is a judgement call and usually at most two paces.
As I said that if a player is bundling players over illegally then I have less tolerance. What I mean by that is that when it is uncertain the balance of doubt swings in favour of the opponent who has constantly fouled in this manner. Case in point is players that go down easily or in an exaggerated fashion. When I am unsure it is not given as a foul.
In this case if the player was already on a caution for this type of action then why did the referee not call it? Obviously he felt it was a legal charge and a size imbalance.
As regards going through the player I do not see that in the video. I see size imbalance with the smaller lighter player coming off the bigger the stronger player. If I felt it was through and into the back I would say foul straight away and certainly if the player was already on a caution . So for me there us a doubt about the foul and on balance I see it as more physical contact than a foul. If it was given I can live with it. As a referee I am always careful of size on both sides and I do not want to be overly unfair on big strong players because of their size in challenges. It would be easy to call a foul on every big strong player that contacted a smaller player.
As regards tactics that you describe it is about winning not about player development. As the bio banding narrows the strong players do not get to use there number 1 attribute any longer and guess what? Nothing else to fall back on.
BTW watching it again was there a case for offside on the rebound and gaining an advantage? The AR obviously had a good view of it yet suspicious to me.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Aaron ,
as always we appreciate your candor and questions.
I think I mentioned I was seeing it more as foul than not but given the single camera angle I was not 100% as to how much shoulder in the back versus arm push away was involved. It does make me think if this player WAS cautioned the referee has seen other tackles by the Big guy. The blue player made no real complaint as well as he went down relatively unscathed not in a tumbling heap if you gather my meaning. Although admittedly I saw him as falling forward rather than sideways which prompted my thinking it a foul.

The Big versus Small distinction is indeed prevalent in how just mass and speed, simple physics does factor in youth soccer. I watched some smaller player leap into the bigger guys and bounce off like a ping pong ball . Big guy barely notices but IF he did the same it would cream the other player and most definitely a foul. Small guy fouling in the reverse we apply advantage but technically they are fouling just not effectively .

As to the concept of playing up . Certain kids do very well others not so much only a careful evaluation can decipher if the effects are good or bad but then WHO makes that decision? Who is monitoring the effects? At the wee ages it is prudent to put the ball chasers against one another and the butterfly chasers against each other as the aggressive instincts are more in harmony as much as there might be skill mostly attitude and competitive drive.
Yet I have seen very good 9 year old playing U-12 Then again in a mixed senior league of high school kids I watched a spindly very good 13 year old grade 8 get utterly destroyed by a fledgling grizzly bear grade 12 with full beard no better skilled but so much stronger in a totally foul free tackle that physics was deathly unkind to the smaller fellow!

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