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Question Number: 32462

Law 6 - The Other Match Oficials 5/21/2018

RE: Adult

steven of seattle, WA usa asks...

What is the protocol for an assistant referee coming off their line to stop a potential/ongoing confrontation between players? I was AR2 on a game this weekend and two players started to get into it in the quadrant down the touch line from me. CR had already turned his back and following play back the other way and one guy got into another's face and the other started throwing punches. I yelled out the CR's name and then ran over to that area during a live play to get involved, break them up, tell the CR what punishments to give (yellow for instigator, red for punch thrower).

Was that the right course of action or should I have stood on my line and let them fight and then take info down after the ball goes out of play? And if this was the right course of action, would the correct restart have been giving a direct kick for the team of the player who got punches thrown, or a dropped ball if the ref stopped play in the middle?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steven,
As far as I am aware the more common recommendation is that the match officials should not intervene directly in physical alterations between players. For instance, the Laws say that:

''In situations of mass confrontation, the nearest AR may enter the field of play to assist the referee. The other AR must observe and record details of the incident. The fourth official should remain in the vicinity of the technical areas.''

Now, this was just two players so the mass confrontation advice is not really applicable and I have noticed that in televised games, the officials seem more likely to intervene directly when only a couple of players are involved. Still, it's a risky proposition as it can be physically dangerous to an official to come between sparring players. You should certainly attract the referee's attention and get play stopped as quickly as possible and even if you don't get between the players directly, going onto the field to at least get their attention and also hopefully, to prevent any other players becoming involved, is OK.

As to the restart, if the ball was still in play, it would be a direct free kick to the opponents of the player who instigated the physical altercation.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Steven,
it is UNWISE to directly interfere if the two want to have at here! That not say a LOUD word if you see the incident in its start up and helping initially to inform the CR then later to help in keeping them apart might be feasible I have seen Collina in the past on occasion actually get in tight and dirty even poking players in the chest but only certain referees in certain circumstances can even think to chance it. The protocols could be discussed in the pregame as to who watches whose back, who records etc.. I have on a very few occasions physical touched a player as a CR & as an AR but always in the interest of avoiding a complete melt down of the match when getting the sent off guy out of the area before the entire opposing team came raining down in retribution.
Any restart is dependant on who imitated the action. If they were both just jawing at one another and you stepped in during live play along the touchline, then got clocked, that guy is off for VC and the opposition get the DFK or PK.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
In a recent Play Off game in the UK an AR intervened between two players who moved to confront each other. As it developed it did not look like a very wise idea due to the risks it posed for physical injury to the AR. In my opinion there are times when it is not a wise move particularly if they are so close that it requires physical contact by the match official. There can be times of moving into clear space to prevent movement without contact.
I know some match official who are say police officers or in professions where physical engagement is part of their training such as security, military etc and they are comfortable in intervening physically between players. Even with that I would recommend that match official do not get involved physically.
So in your example I would shout to the CR to get his attention and then observe what happens. When a fight has already broken out a referee or assistant could easily get struck being in the middle of it.
So instead I would recommend that the AR / CR just try to prevent others from getting involved through he use of the whistle and hopefully team mates etc will get involved to restrain the fighting parties.
I had a brawl in my game at the weekend and there was no way I was getting involved other than blowing the whistle loudly in the vicinity of the players. I just observed what was going on and when it all calmed down I sent off the two brawlers for violent conduct.
This is the advice from my association UEFA
** If it is not possible to prevent the escalation of a confrontation between players immediately, the referee should observe what happens in detail and he should avoid being physically involved in separating fighting players.
Physical contact by a referee or assistant referee when intervening between players should normally be avoided. Strong use of the whistle might be helpful, but shouting at players should also be avoided**

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