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Question Number: 32922

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/17/2018

RE: Under 17

greg of madison, wi usa asks...

what is the best way to approach giving a caution for PI when it's one particular player getting fouled repeatedly?

should you tell the team captains that the next foul against the player will be a caution? announce it out loud so the players all hear like 'NEXT FOUL ON #9 IS GETTING A YELLOW'? say nothing?

also, if you give a yellow card for PI against a specific player, should every subsequent foul afterwards also be YC'ed?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Greg
Good question.
The basis behind persistent offending caution is to sanction a player who is constantly committing offences, disrupting a game and perhaps targeting a certain opponent. While cautioning the player he is told, why he is being cautioned, that if he does not change his ways, he will be dismissed
Now that has been extended to protect the player who is being fouled constantly by different opponents. Personally, I look for the obvious caution opportunity, not just any foul on the player to caution in these situations. It can be the tactical foul or say the jersey pull, the borderline reckless foul where an offence is expected to be carded. I also try to evaluate the behavior of the players. A player who has played & behaved well in the game and he just carelessly trips the *star* player IMO does not necessarily merit a card for persistent offending. Sometimes though the player can just be unlucky as to the straw that broke the camels back,
Now when a player is cautioned it is expected that the player must changes his behavior or receive further sanction. Many times that is the case and other times the player has to be dismissed because he failed to heed the warning and committed a second cautionable offence.
There will be times when a player on a caution does not come to the referees attention for say 30/40 minutes and then commits a careless foul. Unless the offence merited a card in its own right that is reckless, tactical, mandatory etc I would rarely send off a player off for a second yellow card on a careless foul. I have sent off players who were on cautions for reckless challenges, tactical fouls, removing shirts at a goal celebration. Rarely have I sent off for a careless foul despite protests from opponents to do so.
Fouls sometimes just happen, a careless trip, a slip that ends up as impeding with contact etc. As I say to players that if I am cautioning for that the game would not get finished as there could be multiple red cards for two cautions

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I've had some success with something like, 'Red, there's been far to many fouls. [use as applicable] Espeecially against #7. [\use as applicable] It has to stop, NOW. Understand?'

Then you're not committing yourself to 'the next foul', but you have put them on notice.

And remember, if you are cautioning for multiple offenses by multiple players, it's USB not PI.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Greg,
Technically speaking, the scenario you describe is not actually PI (which would be called 'PO' now, as the word 'infringement' is no longer used in the laws). What the law says, is that:

''A player is cautioned if guilty of ... persistent offences (no specific number or pattern of offences constitutes ''persistent'')''

So the law only talks about a caution for PO if there are multiple offences committed by a (single) player.

Now, some authorities (notably the USSF in its now discontinued 'Advice to Referees' document) had opined that if a single opponent is targeted by multiple players, that could be seen as an offence similar in nature to persistent offences by a single player, and worthy of a caution.

However if cautioning for this reason, and assuming the last offence committed doesn't qualify for a caution on its own, the only plausible justification for a caution is USB.

Here's what the USSF's ATR said - and I think their advice lays out a good way to handle it:

''The referee must also recognize when a single opponent has become the target of fouls by multiple players. As above, upon recognizing the pattern, the referee should clearly indicate that the pattern has been observed and that further fouls against this opponent must cease. If another player commits a foul against the targeted opponent, that player must be cautioned but, in this case, the misconduct should be reported as unsporting behavior, as must any subsequent caution of any further foul against that same targeted opponent. Eventually, the team will get the message.''

Please note that this advice said that the referee should merely say the offences must cease so, as ref Voshol says, this does not commit the referee to a caution on the very next offence. This should be avoided, as it means the referee has no leeway if for instance the next foul is a truly innocuous one that does not deserve a caution.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Greg,
there is a great deal of tactical theater in soccer.

Persistent offending to coin the phrase Ref Grove highlights, is a single player engaged in multiple fouls against a single individual or a variety of opponents usually in a discernible pattern or within a shortened period of time. We look at, WHY is this player ALWAYS appearing on our radar screen?

He is cautioned & shown the yellow card because of the number of fouls are disproportionate to the playing dynamics. This is independent of the reckless aspect but that could still be part of the final straw as it were. I would not double caution even if that final tackle warranted a yellow by itself but if he was already on a caution for different event earlier then of course a red card for the two yellows is mandated under the LOTG !

As this is only an individual you direct your attention to that individual so he is very aware he is on thin ice & you expect better when cautioning.& showing the yellow card for PO against a specific player, while not every subsequent foul afterwards must be a card but look at the type & time of the next foul, when or if it occurs and consider if he did heed your warning ? It is important to distinguish a real hearted attempt to play the ball rather than thwart the player but one can not ignore the fact if a player is running amok flinging in borderline tackles at every player on the opposition side or is pulling his defensive marker down at every opportunity .

When performed by a team of players the targeting of a particularly skilled single opposition player by repeated fouling, is to hide the PO, it is actually USB!. It is a tactical ploy by a multitude of different players that are doing only a single foul, to affect the playing ability of a dangerous foe. Again the reckless element of a foul may not be part of the force used but the deliberate tactical attacks are at minimum a form of USB and certainly an aware referee must grasp this quickly or it could lead to a very ugly outcome.

In a preventive mode when I feel a player might be receiving too much team attention. One could use the team captains as an instructional warning for all to hear , 'That you are tired of seeing this exceptional player on the ground & should you continually see him there again there could be a price to pay!'
Even if you do stop and show the yellow card to a player for this type of USB targeting. It is never a good idea to paint the picture in a black & white setting so I would refrain from stating it out loud that the next foul against any player WILL BE a caution, always give yourself some options even as you admonish that there could be consequences .

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