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Question Number: 33623

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 9/4/2019

RE: select High School

Ben Barrowes of Lyme, NH US asks...

Regarding spitting *at* someone. The laws only state that spitting *at* someone is a sendoff offense.

I had a situation where the attacker somewhat excitedly brushed the goalkeeper on a close ball, but no real contact. But the keeper got annoyed, looked at the attacker angrily, then, when the attacker was about 7-8 yards away spit at the ground a yard away from his feet but in the direction of the attacker in a clearly angry, defiant, upset manner.

I spoke to the keeper and told him to cool it and never spit again in a game *at* someone. But should I have sent him off?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ben
For me the answer depends on intent and if an opponent was targeted. What was the intention of the goalkeeper here?
What was the reaction of the opponent? If the spit was directed at the player then that is a penal offence punished by a red card and a penalty kick .
If it was an offensive, insulting and abusive gesture towards the player then it is also a red card yet the restart is an indirect free kick.
Now for me the only judge of this is the referee on the day. The referee has to *sense* the intention here as to whether it was connected with the opponent or whether it was unintended and not connected. The reaction of the opponent will be a factor.
Now my take on what is described is that it was fairly likely it was an offensive, insulting and abusive gesture for which it was a red card and an IDFK restart. The fact though that the opponent did not react suggests to me that he either did not see it or he did see it as as directed at him so it could be let slide or managed as you did. If the opponent reacts negatively then it must be dealt with under the Laws.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Ben,
Just so I understand your question, the keeper spat on the ground a yard away from himself while glaring at the attacker some distance away?

Well, this isn't spitting at somebody. If he spat out in the direction of the attacker, then it's different.

However, spitting on the ground is a highly disrespectful, even offensive gesture. If it's made clear that the spitting on the ground is in response to somebody (which it was here), then you could consider whether it constitutes USB or even OFFINABUS. But it's not spitting at somebody.

If a player acted like that towards myself, I'd certainly be cautioning for dissent being such a highly visual gesture of disrespect. I'd at least be considering OFFINABUS.

At another player? Your response will vary on the mood of the game, anywhere between what you did and a card (which would require you to stop play and award an IFK to the opposing team).

It's a highly inflammatory gesture that is intended to be offensive. It's the ultimate disrespect. Now, I have a lower bar for OFFINABUS towards match officials (same as to spectators) - others may disagree with that approach, but these are all things worth considering.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ben,
a hit or a miss, a spit is a send off, ... IF ... it was intentionally directed at a player, opponent, or in fact, anyone? I once saw a referee send off a guy for spitting on and trying to kick a dog off the pitch
Could there be a spit to clear the throat that occurs with a person close?
YES it could occur but did it?

Initially I missed the fact the spit was not DIRECTED at another player per say but at the ground near his own feet?

That is more an act of misconduct and possibly construed as caution worthy of say dissent or USB or interpreted as foul and abusive behavior and thus a send off, no matter the card the restart is only an INDFK

The foul for a spitting incident is a DFK or PK. I think you managed it in as gentle away as that keeper could EVER hope for .

I will add this though, when opposition players challenge hard on keepers and initiate contact of ANY sort, you need to be VERY proactive in heading off retaliatory issue EVEN if you are NOT seeing it as a full blown foul or consider the contact as a doubtful or trifling reason to stop play. A strong warning and your presence MIGHT stop the keeper from trying to react or form his own response thinking there was more there than you saw! Sometimes we can save a player from himself, not always, but sometimes! lol


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