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Question Number: 33373

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/22/2019

RE: Competetive Adult

Shaun of Melbourne, Australia asks...

During a match between team A and B, a player of team A, which also can speak a second language (in which no other players can understand it) use offensive, insulting or abusive language towards player of team B. No reaction from player of team B as he/she do not understand the language.
It just happened that the referee is familiar with that words.
Should referee stop the game and send off the abusive player from team A with a R6?
Thank you

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Shaun
There was an interesting case in the UK where a PL manager made a derogatory comment to an opposing coach in his native language in the technical area. The incident was picked up on camera and lip reading was able to determine what was said. The manager was sanctioned as a result of what was said. His defence of a foreign language did not stand up. The Disciplinary Panel applied what is called the *reasonable bystander* test, on the facts and in the context and circumstances of the case found that the words were abusive, insulting or improper even if in another language.
In this instance it is up to the referee to decide whether the incident merited a red card. Once the referee determined that the words used were OFFINABUS then a red card was appropriate. The target of the offensive language is not the only consideration and it also include the referee, other players, spectators who heard what was said etc
Another referee may not have a clue what was said and just ignore it
Having said all that the words are just one element of the incident. Loudness, demeanour, aggressiveness etc can all be factored in which can result in a caution for acting in an aggressive manner in its own right.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Shaun,
The referee was 100% correct to act in accordance with the LOTG!

Language spoken on the FOP if vulgar or expletive it can be in response to a bad tackle or even directed at oneself for missing a shot or failure to stop the opponent. Depending on the nature of what was said & effect on the match temperament there could be room to see the behavior as USB thus actionable with only a yellow card warning.

It may not always be necessary to stop play to deal with a tirade in the context of who, how, what, when & where and why. My colleague Ref McHugh correctly points out that the verbal vitreous language itself is not the only factor as the loud or aggressive tone, body language and characterization of the incident no matter who it is directed against if understood by the referee or even later in a video by the authorities responsible for sanctions.

Yet sometimes the what is said is as important as the why or meaning in behind it. While youth will send off a player for a single swear word, adults requires a more deft approach. Yet in either if the wording is used in a racist or abusive torrent it is an immediate red card no ifs buts or doubt that player could be sanctioned for Foul & abusive behavior/language shown the red card and sent off during the match or at least sanctioned later when it become apparent the nature of the act did occur it just needed someone to interpret correctly

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Shaun,
If a player uses offensive, insulting it abusive language or gestures, the referee issues them with a red card. As previous incidents such as the one mentioned by ref McHugh show, it only matters whether the referee judges this to be an OFFINABUS offence, not what language was used. There was another similar occurrence a few years ago in the EPL involving Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra. In the subsequent disciplinary hearing, the meaning of a specific word in Spanish was discussed, and whether it was actually offensive or not. The fact that it was in Spanish made no difference to the determination of the offence.

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