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Question Number: 7407

The Technical Area

RE: HS State Tournament High School

Gray of , USA asks...

NF Rules Specific..While a fourth official in the second half of a hotly contested HS state tournament game, I observed a coach quietly instructing a substitute to "take down" a specific opponent. I did not hear the entire conversation (and was not intended to). ..In my opinion, this should have qualified as cautionable on the coach. However missing the majority of the conversation and lacking context, I elected not to recommend a caution to the center for the coach (H.S. Rules). ..When the player checked in as a sub, I intentionally intercepted the player at the bench on his way to check in. In front of the coach I politely made it clear I was monitoring play by and against the target player who I identified by number. This apparently headed off the incident as the coach later pulled the sub back before entering the game. Later, in the last minute another sub flagrantly fouled the target opponent and was 2nd cautioned (#1 was persistent infringement). ..Following the game, both coaches approached me seperately wanting an explanation. The offending coach was clearly playing dumb and wanted to know why I was "intimidating" his player. The targeted players coach wanted an explanation of my warning. I avoided both discussions. Both coaches have reputations for playing games with the officials...Questions: ..1. In your opinion, what is a good indicator as to when an instruction to deliberately foul becomes a caution/administrative warning for a coach as opposed to waiting for the foul to actually occur. Take down may be interpreted to tactically foul or to injure - not clear. ..2. As a fourth official, at what point do you interrupt play to notify the center of these events even if you do not have enough info to recommend a card in your opinion. I did get him the word but it took about 10 minutes due to location of play. Near side AR got the word immediately...3. Should I have pulled both coaches to my box and made it clear that I overheard the conversation? I believe this may have made circumstances worse instead of better as the other coach may have instructed retailiation (not out of the question in this game with these coaches). ..4. Post-game - how much info do you discuss with the coaches -especially a non-cooperative coach. Seems like a good way to cause problems...5. What other recommendations do you have for managing a heated game and benches as a fourth? I only do about 1-2 fourth's a year. Fourth's are reserved for tournaments when a third official is required and are really used as protection in case of injury...Thanks

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Gray I'll try and answer, ..1. As soon as you heard what you heard your obligation to let the referee know what you heard is manifest. The referee is behind if he doesn't have this little tidbit of info. If he has it all substitutes are suspect as long as the coach remains in the technical area. ..2. The referee should be called over at the next stoppage of play and given this information. ..3. The coaches learn one was overheard as soon as the referee administers discipline and a coach recommending or ordering one of his players to engage in serious foul play or violent conduct is guilty of bringing the Game into disrepute. (no US High School equivalent). It is my belief that the referee needs to intervene in the strongest possible way, even to the point of disqualifying this coach. The Game is more important than the petty foul instructions of a coach who tries to incite in his players this kind of behavior. Yes, given the information you had I would recommend sending him off. If I was referee and received that information I would have no hesitation in dismissing him. ..4. Post match discussions are between the referees on the match, not an education session with the main subject being how one coach or the other believes how the match referee should have called the game. ..5. The following areas are graded when a USSF referee is fourth official: Appearance, League Protocol, Bench Control, Attitude, Inspection of Game & Player Equipment, Positioning & Communications, Assistance with Substitutions, Administrative Paperwork. Further if something happens in the technical area and the fourth official, only, has knowledge of he is to write a report outlining the facts associated with what he knows. Discipline of bench personnel may be administered based on this report. ..In this Game the referee is tasked with the responsibility of enforcing the Laws of the Game, he protects the players by doing so. In the event it is known someone is giving instructions to his players to harm an opponent then that individual must feel the weight of the Law so that players are protected. ..I will now attempt to address the target player, we've all seen this happen and this is the recommended solution from US Soccer. It applies to US High School, even though it is not addressed in their rules. If a player is singled out and is repeatedly fouled by sequential opponents. When the referee becomes aware of this he is to approach the, yes the, captain and inform him that a pattern of fouls has been identified against this particular player. He will advise the captain that every subsequent foul to this player will merit a persistent infringement caution. The referee will caution each player fouling the target player. ..My thoughts, not US Soccer's follow: the referee will do this until the foul play ceases or the team using foul play runs out of players and the match is abandoned. The target player is now protected and is able to demonstrate his skill without the possibility of injury. Identifying this kind of persistent infringement is a skill beyond the ability of most novice and some experienced referees. It is a necessary skill and should be learned by all referees. ..Thanks for trusting us to offer a possible answer to your question. ..Regards,

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