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Question Number: 33012

Law 5 - The Referee 1/24/2019

RE: Recreation Under 10

Winston Mohammed of London, London UK asks...


I have a question relating to refereeing that I wonder if someone could offer their input, please?

It relates to fouls and misconduct.

My opinion is that whether a foul has taken place is a matter of opinion. For example, when Mo Salah was adjudged to have been fouled against Newcastle recently, it was the referees opinion that a foul had taken place. However, it is conceivable that a different referee would view the same incident and have a different opinion.

But because the application of laws is subjective to each incident, neither party are wrong, so to speak.

Is that correct?

I am trying to educate some young players on respecting officials and we have been discussing that just because you disagree with a referee does not necessarily mean they are wrong. It might just mean that you have viewed the same incident different and both views are valid, but the referee's opinion is the only one that matters.

I'd love it if you could confirm that I am correct to say that or if you would describe it differently!

Many thanks


Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Winston
You are indeed spot on.
Let me put it like this. The referee has a unique view from his *hilltop* in real time. Many times he does not have the benefit of technology nor assistants. So the Mo Salah incident looked like a foul to the referee from his unique position at that time which is why he awarded a penalty kick.
Another referee on the same incident could have an entirely different unique angle of view which could cause him to make a different decision either due to him missing the contact or feeling that was perhaps none.
One of the best examples of this was made by Referee Esse Baharmast for a penalty award in the Brazil v Norway game in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals held in France. He was briefly vilified for giving that late penalty to Norway in the dying minutes of that first-round game with Brazil, only to be vindicated the following day when a Swedish TV station released previously unseen TV footage from a new camera angle indisputably showing that he made the right call. Norway striker Tore André Flo did indeed have his jersey pulled by Brazil defender Júnior Baiano. The call was later selected by Referee Magazine as one of the *Best 18 Calls of All Time.*
Have a look what the camera showed on the day.
Certainly does not look like a penalty from that viewing? If I was making a call based on what I saw there I would say no penalty
Now have a look at this footage which only was shown the next day
Any doubt about the call now?
So had the referee missed the pull of the shirt due to his angle of view the outcome would have been different. It did not stop him being berated by Brazil for the decision in the game as they felt there was no foul. In fact some FIFA officials after the game felt from what they saw on TV that it was not the correct decision. That all changed when it was showed what had actually happened for the referees to award the penalty.
It is a great example of decision making and perhaps how an incident could have two differing outcomes based on what is seen or not seen for that matter.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Winston,
There is a well-known initialism in refereeing circles - ITOOTR, which stands for 'in the opinion of the referee.' This is a phrase that used to be repeated multiple times within the laws document until 2016, when a major re-write saw repetitive phrases removed to make the laws shorter. So although the phrase now only occurs once, it does so in Law 5 - The Referee, where it is stated as a general principle that must be applied throughout the laws.

The full context in which it appears, is as follows:

''Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.''

So yes, it is true that every foul that is given, is based on the referee's opinion of it, bearing in mind that is an opinion made within the framework of and informed by the Laws of the Game.

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