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Question Number: 32758

Mechanics 9/29/2018

RE: Rec Under 13

Brian White of Palmer, MA USA asks...

I'm a relatively new ref (have about 65 games under my belt). U12 full field game, single referee, friendly temp, only a handful of fouls, no cards, very little chatter from parents, aside from sideline coaching from a Dad.

Home team with 11 players is down two to a competitive away team that only fielded 9 players.
About 1.5 minutes left to full-time, home team has a mini breakaway, but striker pushes the ball too far, so it's going to be collected by the keeper.
I'm trailing the play, in good position to see fouls, and watch the defender shield the ball to the keeper.

Parents go nuts calling for a 'back-pass' violation. I didn't see any violation, as I'm shielded by player shielding the ball, and thus don't whistle the play dead. Play continues to full time, with no more chatter than the initial outburst.
Due to player reaction, parents reaction, etc., there's probably a 95% probability that the pass-back occurred.

Normally, I tune out the chatter, and I discount the calls from parents, etc. as they're almost always biased, but here even a few seconds afterwards, I was pretty positive the violation occurred.

I talked with the home team coach on a uniform question after the game, and afterwards said 'Looks like I missed an intentional pass the keeper?'. 'Yeah, but that's okay', was the answer.

So, the question is - do you ever whistle and make a call that you didn't actually see?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Brian,
Welcome to the ranks of the bastards in black lol . I like the way you are starting out we all wish you well and feel free to drop us a line whenever you wish.

NO I hold the opinion you can not call what you do not know for sure unless you have neutral parties to confer with ARS 4th etc.. or the on VERY rare occasions the culprit admits his guilt. I have seen goals awarded the scorer upset that he got away using his hand to score the goal the referee accepted his version and nullified the goal the team he scored on gave him a thumbs up for fair play. I have also seen a referee award a PK the culprit ashamed decides to pass the ball to the keeper rather than score. Sometimes people behave ethically most times we are scratching our heads wondering if we have been duped!

A referee with integrity can only call what he/she sees and based on his/her understanding of the LOTG.

One of the hardest lessons is in positioning, to get the best angle of view, to make that effort to stay with play and to give those watching a sense of you are in charge and by your efforts they can feel secure you are in fact on the job. That is what refereeing is, a paid job, usually, you can volunteer to give the funds back but notice we volunteer for free at most every level of a soccer association except refereeing.

AS you can see the coach was ok you missed something THEY perceived as wrong (it may well not be) because he was ok with your level of effort if not your knowledge. WE do not see everything, we do miss things but we do not make stuff up to suit the perceived notions of those watching. In every prematch I use a version of this , ' I am fair not perfect & my ARS are 100% off limits to ANY form of abuse or interference in the performance of their duties. You may bring any concerns ONLY to me through your captain. If there is time for an explanation or response I will give it, if not, table if for after the match when passions are cooler! I will not argue or debate even if I choose to listen or not. We can agree to disagree and move on! '

I also point out
A spectator or fan or parent/ sees what they think they see
A coach sees what he wants to see,
A player sees what they feel they see
A referee sees what he sees

Another trying condition is in learning to delay the whistle while you await outcomes of play. Delay too long and crowd is screaming they will believe it was their doing why you called it if indeed you do. The advantage aspect of play is not as prevalent at u 12 and raising and lowering a whistle cries of indecision making teams think you saw it but were too afraid to call it, not that you were considering it but simply unsure or decided it was not a foul. Like you, no one can divine intentions, which is why we call fouls based on their mechanics not the thoughts of the culprit . I try to think of the whistle as velcroed to my side so that when I need to blow it I must rip it free first then raise it to blow. It is possible that while protecting the ball the defender took a little shove stumbled forward and foot contacted the ball as the keeper was rushing in or he was not pushed but foolishly delivered a clean crisp pass off his foot to his keeper. . Either way it does not matter because YOU did not see it! AND if you did you might have seen it the way I FIRST described it and not called it anyway.

Perception of what is or is not the truth is based on their line of sight their knowledge their observational skills and their complete understanding of every aspect of the situation. EXCEPT most of us see only a PORTION of any picture. Some of which is enough to convince us what we saw was a valid foul or not enough convincing thus not a foul.

I had a very solid incident that created some controversy because those watching from the touchlines believed with every fiber of their being I missed a clear elbow to the mouth of a following opponent. What those watching never considered was the speed of play, the fact the pursing player was running at top speed head down chasing a defender step for step mere inches away in behind & slightly off to the right. Both were in pursuit of a lofted ball that was into a decent head wind. What neither player realized was the ball had massive backspin so when it hit the ground out in front of them rather then bounce towards the direction they were running it REVERSED course and came right into the face chest of the defender who realized she needed to stop to play the ball of her chin/chest she screeched to a stop arms raised slightly to arch back and play the ball .

The player running behind her at top speed unaware of the physics here simply ran into the raised arm which was NOT fired back or cocked simply a player trying to react to a ball headed directly towards her face/chest. I asked if she was ok, saw no blood, and play continued despite the howls of protest from her supporters along the touchline.

The only real foul was on this player holding her mouth charging into the back of the defender. The defender had done NOTHING wrong except she stopped a tad quicker in she could react in time to the ball changing direction the following player had no idea because she was fixated on passing the defender thinking she would run onto the ball.

If I relied on the touchlines they wanted a card & a DFK . The issue was from MY angle of view their was no foul. I called or rather made NO call based on what I saw as much as what I did not see .

One thing as a single referee you drop the AR section but could add, ALWAYS play the whistle! Look where I am! Without ARS offside and screens and faraway decisions will be made solely upon what I KNOW to be true not guessing. I am FAIR not perfect & if I make a mistake it will not be a lack of effort simply a bad angle of view..


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Brian,
Good on you for committing to spend time performing the essential but sometimes thankless task of refereeing - the task that permits the game to go on and to flourish.

For me, a referee should not be calling offences that they did not see. Now, there are times when you have to make a call when you are not sure which way to give it, such as throw-ins and goal/corner kicks. However those are situations where the ball is already out of play and you have to make a decision one way or the other. This principle does not apply to potential offences however. If, as in this case, you saw absolutely nothing at all, as far as I'm concerned you can't give it. It's also different to when you did see something occur (usually a foul of some kind) and are simply looking for confirmation that you got it right.

Apart from those instances when you already know there's something there, I would be wary of putting too much store in the reactions of players and spectators. I think that's especially true when it comes to potential 'deliberate kick to the keeper' offences. Many, if not most players and spectators don't fully understand this law and will appeal, often loudly, whether the offence meets the criteria or not. For instance, the ball may very well have taken a slight but totally unintentional touch off the defender - everyone in the opposition camp will appeal for this but it is not an offence unless it was deliberately kicked and intended for the keeper.

I would also advise against second-guessing yourself too much. Usually, your first instinct is correct and if you constantly dwell on things that you might have got wrong, you're not really doing yourself any favours. Be honest in acknowledging your mistakes when you make them (and we all do, if course) but don't go looking for potential mistakes that may not even be there. If you just call what you have seen, honestly and impartially, you won't go far wrong.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Brian,

Don't make a decision based on something you did not see.

For all you know, the defender's foot might have moved near the ball just as it bobbled over a tuft of grass, some parents saw that and thought it was a backpass (through their biased lens, they'll interpret events in a way that suits their purpose), then others took up the call and would swear they saw it even though they didn't!

People think they've seen what they want to see.

Sure, maybe you missed it. But maybe everyone on the sideline was wrong. Believe me, that happens.

As a coaching point, I'd ask where you were positioned. When you're trailing an attacker running direct at the goal, don't run directly behind. Angle off to the side (the opposite side to your AR if you can, when you have one). It puts you further away, but gives you a much, much better view. Angle of view is everything and generally speaking you want a roughly side-on view.

Even when the defender was shielding the ball to the keeper, you'd want a roughly side-on view here. If the attacker tried to challenge for the ball and pushed the defender, you'd have a very poor view if you're directly behind.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brian
Thanks for the question.
The simple answer is only give what you see.
However over the years I have gained enough experience to make the very odd call of not seeing something clearly yet based on all the circumstances I deduced that it was a foul. It is like detective work in that if 95% of the clues are present taking the risk on 5% may be worth taking
Having said that I do not do it on unseen violent conduct as I have to write a report of what I seen nor do I do it on a penalty kick as all may not be what it presents as.
On this one I would say that with the striker present it was not a deliberate kick to the goalkeeper. It may have been kicked to the goalkeeper by a defender yet if he is challenging a striker for the ball that can be a tackle with the ball going back to the GK. The coach may think it was the so called *passback* just because the defender kicked it yet it is not.
So best wishes in your refereeing career. With 65 games in you are certainly adding to your experience. Good that you have already been able to tune out the chatter. Coaches, player are not a good source of correctness or otherwise on decision even after the game.

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