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Question Number: 33612

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/2/2019

RE: Professional

engin ataman of Olympia, WA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33609

Follow up question to Mr. MCHUGH,
First of all, thank you for taking the time and even giving another example of a similar challenge. I also agree with you about how much easier it is to watch the video and make comments. Since the introduction of VAR, i feel more comfortable asking experts their opinion about certain decisions on the field.

However, I do not think i worded my question very well. I was trying to ask, if you thought both tackles are essentially identical and could justify a red card for both (only with the luxury/benefit of VAR of course). Or would you agree with Mr Dawson's comments saying:

'The second incident is in no way as serious as the 1st , albeit I am sure it hurt. If we look at the timing and the fact the player was not attacking the ball carrier with a raised stiff leg but wound up stepping on the foot that was placed under him as he was a wee bit late arriving to play the ball. The contact was near unavoidable albeit a late contact but I saw no deliberate attempt to place heavy weight or a vicious twist that could be a catalyst for a red card. Based on the events from an arm chair perspective you and I are in total agreement . Red for one, yellow for the other was a fair outcome based on the angle of view provided '

Again, intent of my question is not to question the real time decision the referee made... jut the difference of tackles, both reckless yes but excessive force and therefore red for both? or yellow is fine for the second?

Thank you again sir.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Engin,
for what it is worth an opinion is simply perspective based on what we think we know, on what it is we think we saw. Now we might be experienced and trained in knowledge but wisdom is also understanding not everyone HAS the same perspective even if we are all looking at the exact same thing? I am confident that the 1st tackle had a greater degree of potential harm than the 2nd. The events are similar but they are NOT the same! I get that you can run an event in real time and barely get a murmur from the crowd watching but slow it down to highlight the actual dynamics and oohs and aahs with intakes of breath and comments abound!

A referee with integrity makes a decision based on what he sees, he has a commitment to this belief & takes irrevocable actions because of it. VAR then presents additional unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief COULD be wrong by framing a video angle in slow motion that the referee had no knowledge of. The referee will of course initially rely on the image he recalls but he will be affected by the fact his peers think different, he will recall the training and the admonishments of those in power stating these leg breaking tackles are a blight on the game and now with the angle of view altered, the event slowed down to exaggerates the horror of what could have been, he will reconsider his original decision because he is under no illusions that failing to interpret information in an unbiased way can lead to serious misjudgments. The desire to be right and the desire to HAVE been right are two DIFFERENT desires. The desire to be right is the thirst for truth. That is a good thing ! The desire to HAVE been right, on the other hand, is foolish pride if it stands in the way of our seeing we were wrong when we can make it right Unfortunately it also tends to highlight a referee in an embarrassing light at times.

Confirmation bias is somewhat linked to our memories (similar to availability bias). We have a penchant for recalling evidence that backs up our beliefs. However neutral the original information was, we can fall prey to selective recall. You can explain why a decision COULD be reached but if the one receiving this information is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what that event was about can he find the courage to change that belief or if he is right NOT to change it? ? My mentor Esse could have had VAR pressuring at him bad PK back in 98 because ONLY he KNEW it was not because he SAW and remained convinced in what he saw. There is no doubt, in my opinion, VAR creates doubt!

I do not KNOW if the players involved were ALREADY on the referee radar for similar or perhaps irredeemable actions or if these players have a rough history of reckless or excessive conduct. A referee is aware in totality of conduct and that can affect an orangey situation based on timing and circumstances. Players CAN NOT endanger the safety of their opponents without consequences. Consequences are a result of interpretation and while they might be overly harsh or not harsh enough, there will be someone to argue tit for tat its' the same as that except it is not!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Engin
I have no difficulty in agreeing with my good colleague Referee Dawson on this.
Now there is an inherent difficulty in looking at incidents in isolation and without knowledge of the game, circumstances etc. A feisty unpleasant contest may draw a more sterner sanction than a game played in a good spirit.
For instance a player who has not heeded the advice of a referee and he has been acting aggressively with no change in behaviour may be more sternly dealt with than the player who has been impeccable in his conduct throughout the game and the challenge is seen as an accident. Or where a few rough challenges have gone in with the temperature of the game rising.
In all these matters there is no right or wrong on the decision. Very few red cards get turned over on appeal and if they do they have already served part of a suspension for the remainder of the game. Control of that particular game is the key remit of the referee. He has to do what is best for the game at that moment.
In a recent game I chose not to caution a player yet the opposing coach was none too pleased as he felt the challenge was tactical and told me so at half time. I chose not to card just to have a word and it had the desired effect on the player and the game as far as I was concerned. Another referee could have gone with a caution and so be it.
In my game yesterday a defender won a header and his follow through with his head busted an attackers lip. It was purely an accident with no intent and acknowledged by all as such. I awarded a direct free kick for the careless action in the play and no card. Even the free kick was questioned as the correct call. Now imagine a player head butting an opponent in the face and the sanction that should merit?

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