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: 32450

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/14/2018

RE: Travel Under 15

James F of Pittsburgh, PA USA asks...

Midway through the first half of a fairly lopsided contest the white team up 4-0 gets whistled for offside just outside the blue teams penalty area. The ball continues to move into the penalty area and a collision occurs between the blue teams keeper and a player #10 on the white team. Neither player gains possession of the ball. Both players get up apparently and it does not appear that either player is hurt. When the collision occurred, the ball was a few feet off the ground and I judged that the keeper had a better play on the ball and that the white player was reckless by continuing her challenge. So, I cautioned the white player. I then blew the whistle for a substitution and the cautioned player was substituted. Play continued and everything appeared be going normally until with about five minutes left in the half, I heard the blue team's coach asking the keeper if she need to be substituted. She waved him off and the half ended with her still in goal and the white team up 5-0.

At halftime my AR comes over to tell me that the blue coach is very upset because his player took a knee to the head, which I previously had not seen, and the coach feels that I should have given a red card to the white #10. I hadnt seen the contact to the head during the collision, but I dont think it would have made a difference in my decision. I didnt see any signs that the white player was attempting to injure the keeper "her feet remained on the ground and she didnt throw herself forward into the contact but rather seemed to try to pull up. In my thinking, this was just an aggressive player being a little bit too aggressive against an opponent who was also acting aggressively"maybe out of frustration over state of the game. It was an unfortunate outcome that the keeper was hit in the head but she made the decision to go low to try to grab a ball that was near the ground with the white player coming in.

Theres a lot more to this story, but suffice it to say that the coach filed a complaint about me to the league claiming, incorrectly, that I told him I would never give a red card in a U14 game (I told him that in general I would like to avoid giving red cards to players that young), and also that I failed to stop the game to allow his injured player to be attended to. The latter is patently false. The keeper got up fairly quickly and did not show any signs of injury. Her team took the ensuing kick, so if there had been any question of injury, they could have simply not taken the kick and asked me to allow the coach to come on the field, or the coach himself could have asked. At that point, I believe, only the keeper had any idea that she wasnt ok.

So, I have four questions:
1. Does it matter that the collision occurred after the whistle? Because the whistle had blown and there was no possibility of a foul, Im not certain about whether the concepts of reckless and excessive force still apply. I can see how the reckless charge can still be considered unsporting behavior, but arguably both players were engaged in unsporting behavior by continuing to play after a clear whistle. (I use a FOX40 Classic with a cushioned mouth grip, which is extremely loud.) I think it may also have been correct to caution both of them. On the other hand, both of them clearly thought play was continuing, so they werent engaging in deliberate roughhousing.
2. Assuming that the collision had occurred during active play, what are the key elements to look for in deciding between a caution and a send off?
3. Would it have been reasonable to caution both players and possibly have headed off the blue coachs demands that the white player be given a red card, if I had explained to him that both players failed to heed the whistle that had been blown?
4. This last one is just to stir up some controversy. Would this have happened in a U14 boys game? My impression is that male coaches are very protective of their daughters. In this case the keeper was the daughter of a team coach who was not present at the game. I field tested this question with my own 15-year old keeper-playing daughter, and she told me that she hates the way the male coaches get overly protective of the girls.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi James,
welcome to the wonderful world of its not your fault but I will blame you anyways lol . Coaches always like to try and BS their way that somehow their perspective is the only one worth anything. Those on a panel, if they know ANYTHING about the game and the way people act usually can sort the wheat from the chaff.

If you blow the whistle you decided to stop play. If there are, afters, it is MISCONDUCT only and you are certainly able to decide if it was merely careless and a warning or a caution show the yellow card for USB or reckless or show the red card for an excessive or violent act & send off. Restart REMAINS the same, in your case the INDFK for the offside. Given it was offside and you wee blowing to PREVENT the collision I see the attacker more likely at fault.

The collision occurred, you acted on what you saw and play continues. The fact is I can not tell you how you should deal with the collision other than to point out ASK those involved, ARE you ok? CAN you continue! Lets say you missed how bad the contact was. If the keeper was groggy but say not aware she was her team mates can also step up. If you talked to her and she gave you a thumbs up little else you can do? I look at their eyes, ask a direct question, get a firm response if I see a head injury occur I immediate request they take a moment to secure attention but if you do not see it??? .

I have had girls coaches storm onto the field screaming how I failed to protect the keeper when they just do not understand a keeper is ALWAYS at risk given they go down into the feet of players trying to strip the ball . Sometimes they are going to get hurt. Its a fact, not a conspiracy. I do try to get on the correct angle to ensure they do not have possession and THEN get bumped as that annoys me as a coach as well.

You are right fox 40 hit hard has a strong sound and generally gets players attention. I did not see the collision but a double caution might be warranted depending on what each one was doing. Once committed it is difficult to pull out of a tackle so I hold the attacker to a slightly higher standard of bail out given the keeper can have uncontested possession with the hands. But they could easily decided I am going to get this guy! Your decision Your Match Your Reputation

That said I recall I cautioned a keeper for jumping to take a ball while sticking his foot and leg straight out at chest high forcing an attacker to run around him. The keeper whined he was protecting himself but I awarded the opposition an INDFK for his playing in a dangerous manner.

Foul recognition is as much art as science with a degree of gut instinct. You look at direction, the amount of force, where were their eyes focused, was there any degree of control or are we talking a launched missile on impact? Did there appear to be any pullout or bail out ? How long after the whistle did this occur?

Younger aged girls get a nod for harsh contact but I agree I had a young lady play on my u 15 rep team, she was that good, and she got knocked about pretty hard but NEVER complained. I still feel Nicole could have excelled at University if she had decided to keep playing she was a tenacious defender .

As to taking or explaining during a match. I can not really recommend it even though I do it all the time but then I am a very self centered center in believing in my integrity and skill in handing most situations. I try hard NOT to say if you do that I will do this but I get your sentiment in we do not try to look for ways to send players off but we cannot fail to do so when or if the situation arises that we must!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi James,

Don't worry about the complaint. I've had a number put in about me over the years - and some of those have been completely dishonest as well. The authorities know that teams do this so they do a pretty good job of filtering these out. When I was on the committee, most of the time the referees wouldn't even know a complaint was submitted. So don't stress. I bet everyone on the panel has probably had some over the years!!

When you were chasing this down, how were you running? Were you straight behind them? In these cases, angle off to the side. Behind, you can't see much. Angling off does put you further away, but gives you that lovely angled side-on view (and if you angle off to your left, then your AR is in your field of view) and you have a much better view of things

1) Yes and no. How soon after? If it's immediately after (as in, they had already committed) then you'll probably judge it like a normal tackle in terms of when to pull out the card.
I once had a scenario like yours, blew the whistle, keeper just went to catch the ball well after the whistle and attacker kept going and took out the keeper. Given the keeper had no reason to expect a challenge, in my view that made the tackle worse. Wasn't bad enough for a red, but it was a clear card. So when it's well after the whistle, I'd be more likely to show a card than if it was immediately after. Or to put it another way, my 'bar' for 'how bad the tackle has to be' gets lower. So was the keeper challenging, or were they just collecting the ball given it's their restart? Given the restart is for the defence, I'd still be looking harsher at the attacker - they had no right to the ball here; the keeper did.

It sounds like you made the right decision

2) Trickier question. It's very unlikely to see a red card here, especially at a younger age, but clear cheap shots such as an elbow to the head flying out are one thing to look for. Studs up in a very dangerous manner, that sort of thing. Jumping in a manner that puts a pointed knee near the opponent's head is another example.

3) Given the considerations I've put in my first response, I'm finding it hard to see a card for the keeper here. Maybe it's just how I'm picturing it, but I'm having a hard time getting past the fact that given it was offside, keeper had the right to the ball.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi James
A few thoughts
1. I think some referees tend to talk too much to coaches etc and try to justify decisions or pass on opinion. Coaches only hear what they want to hear and I have yet to meet a coach that agrees with an explanation that they remonstrate about. Comments can be twisted around such as what you experienced here.
2. It makes no difference as to the age or gender of a game on SFP / VC. It is the same no matter what.
3. Generally there is one offender in a foul challenge. For example in your example White was the clear offender so that player gets the sanction. I would only see the offended against player getting sanctioned with a card if there were afters.
4. Fouls can only be called during play so when play is stopped the only possibility is misconduct. Misconduct can be either a caution or a dismissal based on whether it is deemed reckless or if excessive force is used
So as I read it there was a foul by White which you seen as reckless which was a caution. That is your call and as you say play was stopped the team had ample time and opportunity to get treatment for any injury.
As to a possible red card what you describe here does not read like it merited that sanction. It is a coach in hindsight throwing his weight about suggesting that a injury to the head merits a red card. That is just bluster and needs to be seen as that. Also I feel that if you had cautioned both you would have added fuel to the fire. The simple decision was whether the foul by White was reckless or serious foul play. I see no reason to caution the GK here in fact it would be seen as unfair had you done so and added nothing to limit the ire of a coach. It would be counterproductive and thrown back as a referee that could not see who fouled who.
Panels that assess such complaints know the game and from what you describe here is not a viable complaint or one that will be taken seriously. The game is stopped immediately so it is not as if play continued? As you say the GK has a duty to inform the referee of an injury particularly when there is no obvious sign of one.
So as to the complaint they do happen and referees just have to deal with them as best they can. As I said those that sit on the panels know the game and understand the circumstances. Panel members know what was the most likely event to happen based on the information provided.
What I would see here is a foul on a goalkeeper, a caution and play restarted. That's all it was and that should have been the end if it. I guess in our modern society everyone wants their opinion heard. I see no merit in this complaint. I see no possible outcome other than creating a bit of a stir to try to disturb a referee and create a little controversy

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32450
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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.