OFFSIDE VS. PENALTY KICK: COMMUNICATIONS, COMMUNICATION, COMMUNICATION!!
I was recently on a game where the attacker was offside and actively involved in play. I put my flag up to indicate offside, but the referee did not see me. During the pregame the center official instructed both me and the other assistant referee to "leave the flag up if you put it up no matter what." The attacker dribbled directly into the penalty area where he was fouled. The referee had called a penalty kick and the defensive opponent was sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The defensive team pointed to me with my flag up to indicate I had called offside to the center official. The referee came over to talk to me on the touchline. I told the center official that the attacker that was fouled, was offside. BEFORE THE RESTART OF PLAY, he called the first infringement which was offside. He then came over to the defender who was sent off, and was still on the team bench but putting his things away in his bag and cautioned the defender making it very clear with his words and body language "I messed up, you are not sent off, but you are receiving a caution for the tackle in the penalty area that was unsporting behavior." The referee allowed the player to continue playing for the rest of the duration of the match.
Question #1: Should I have gone with my center and give indication for the penalty kick, or did I do the right thing by indicating offside?
Question #2: Does the misconduct still stand, despite the call being changed?
Question #3: Did the referee do the right thing by indicating that the defender was not sent off, but cautioned for unsporting behavior?
Answer (January 29, 2007):
1. You followed the referee's instructions from the pregame conference, which is what you are supposed to do--unless the referee is about to violate one of the Laws of the Game or a rule of the competition. We might note that this instruction should never be given by a referee, other than with regard to serious foul play/violent conduct or when the ball has gone out of play and returned to the field--unless "too much play" has gone on, including stoppages and restarts.
2. Yes, the concept of misconduct should still be considered. an option for the referee. if the act would normally have been called a foul, but did not involve the use of excessive force, the defender should be cautioned, just as the referee did it.
ACTING ON OUTSIDE AGENTS
A second ball enters field of play as a team was attacking close to opposition's penalty box. The second ball almost hit the center referee who was close to play. He tempted to chase away that second ball. As he looked to follow the flight of that second ball, the attacking team scored in the meantime. Is that goal legitimate ?
Answer (January 22, 2007):
If the referee did not see the ball enter the goal, there is no goal. The referee should pay attention to outside agents (such as the extra ball) only if they somehow interfere with play on the field.
OXYGEN AT THE TOUCHLINE
With the allowance of players drinking water at the touchline is it permissible for a player to take a breath of oxygen in the same manner under the same stipulations?
Answer (January 11, 2007):
Oxygen for breathing is available in the air, but water for drinking is not; therefore they are not the same thing. If players cannot breathe properly on the field, then they should not be playing. Oxygen on the sideline would be for emergency use only in the hands of an athletic trainer or medical person. Anyone needing to avail themselves of oxygen in an emergency capacity would be out of that game and need a medical release from a doctor, after a check-up, to be permitted to play. Making the decision to keep the player out of the game is within the authority of the referee.
KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF THE PLAYERS!
I've let this letter simmer for a couple of months so that my own attitude settles a bit. I would almost prefer that the question not be published, but it brings up issues that need to be addressed at many levels of competitive soccer. We've seen too many other youth sports where someone at a game went nuts. Then the situation spirals out of control and people end up hurt (or worse). I would hate to see our youth soccer programs end up in the same mess, but I won't be terribly surprised when it happens.
I have been active in soccer as a parent, coach and referee over the past 12 years. For the event listed below, I was just a parent.
Situation: U16 boys competitive tournament. White is a local team. Red is from out of town. About 5 minutes into the first half, still scoreless, opposing players are battling for the ball near midfield. White pushes red, red pushes back harder - a fairly typical foul for this level. The referee blows his whistle and indicates white ball, DFK. The players start backing away from the ball, getting ready for the kick. So far, all is normal. Before play can resume, the assistant referee closest to the play charges onto the field (8-10 yards), shouting at the red player "what's your problem?", bumps the player in the chest a couple of times and finally retreats to his sideline. The referee shows no card to any player, and says nothing to either the player or the AR.
When I complained to the tournament officials about the actions of the referee and assistant referee, they refused to even send an observer to monitor the rest of the game.
White ended up winning the game 2-1.
Questions: Under what circumstance is physical contact permitted between the referee crew and the players? Is it simply to restrain players involved in a fight? That clearly was not the case here. If it had been the other way around, or if it happened between two players, I believe the charging party would have been red-carded for violent conduct.
Answer (January 11, 2007):
Under no circumstances should an assistant referee or a referee act in the manner you describe. While some referees have a knack of handling players differently than others, such as being able to use actual physical contact, what you describe is well "over the top." The AR should have been admonished by the referee and the referee should have included full details of the incident in a report to the referee authorities.
U.S. Soccer thanks Jim Allen (National Instructor Staff/National Assessor), assisted by Dan Heldman (National Instructor Staff), for their assistance in providing this service.
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