US SoccerUS Soccer
wir flagjpg.jpg

2010 Referee Week In Review - Week 15

The Referee Week in Review is designed to address the issues facing referees at all levels by using video highlights from professional games as well as the U.S. National Teams. Written by U.S. Soccer Director of Referee Development Paul Tamberino and U.S. Soccer Manager of Assessment and Training Brian Hall, the Referee Week in Review will highlight specific areas of focus and current U.S. Soccer initiatives designed to improve performance and aid in the development of officials across the country.

Week In Review 2010
Week 15 – Ending July 11, 2010
Week 15 was a busy seven days with a number of games, including the FIFA World Cup Final and the normal docket of MLS and WPS matches. It also marked the kickoff of U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy Finals at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. U.S. Soccer has appointed eight referees and eight assistant referees (ARs) to manage the games over the week-long competition. The Finals’ officials were selected from participants at three prior Academy Showcases held during the season, which started in December of 2009.

Week In Review Podcast: For each “Week In Review,” U.S. Soccer produces a related podcast that covers the topics of the week.


Violent Conduct: Striking an Opponent

The Laws of the Game lists seven sending off offenses. When red carding a player, a substitute or substituted player, the referee must list one of these seven offenses as the reason. One of the reasons the referee may red card a player is violent conduct. To be listed as violent conduct, the offense must meet the following criteria:

  • Involves the use of excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball.
  • The use of excessive force or brutality against a teammate, spectator, match official or any other person.
  • May occur on the field of play or outside its boundaries.
  • The ball can be in play or not.

Remember, “using excessive force” means that a player has far exceeded the necessary use of force in a challenge and is in danger of injuring the opponent. All offenses involving excessive force must be dealt with by issuing a red card.

In “Week In Review 14,” the topic of striking was addressed. Striking (which can be initiated in many different forms: the hand, the fist, the elbow, throwing a ball or other object at an opponent or a head butt), is associated with violent conduct especially since it often occurs when there is no challenge for the ball (no attempt to win or play the ball).

Video Clip 1: Dallas at Seattle (55:42)
Positioning is vital to ensure referees have a clear line of vision to challenges. The result should be improved decisions and the ability to identify the correct punishment for offenses. This clip involves a well-positioned referee who is able to use his strategic position to identify a case of violent conduct (striking an opponent).

Despite calling a foul, the referee does well not to follow the path of the ball and keep his focus on the two players involved in the original challenge. This focus and optimal position allows the referee to identify, first, a foul and, second, a retaliatory strike.

The referee correctly calls a tripping foul on the player in the red jersey. Immediately following the call, the player that has been fouled takes exception to the trip and, as he goes down, he uses his right arm to strike an opponent with excessive force. As a result of his action, the player is red carded for violent conduct.

In similar situations in which the referee may not be as properly positioned, the fourth official can provide vital information regarding the actions of the players involved. The most effective method for communicating this type of information should be established in the pregame meeting conducted with all officials.

Take note of the location of the foul and the violent conduct offense: the area in front of the team benches. This is a volatile area and a warning sign to officials that an offense may escalate. Officials should be prepared to intervene and exhibit urgency when they anticipate a challenge in the area near team benches.

In this clip, the referee’s quick reaction and quick display of the red card ensures the situation does not escalate. Violent conduct often leads to mass confrontation and active intervention on the referee’s part may avert escalation.

Denying An Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO): Options

Over the last two years, DOGSO has been a frequent topic in the “Week In Review.” This season alone, it has been discussed in “Week In Review 1” and in “Week In Review 14”. The decision to send a player off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity is never an easy one as there are many variables that need to be evaluated in a matter of seconds.

DOGSO events often present the referee with many options due to the multiple variables and the dynamic nature of the decision. The speed of the game and the players create a challenge for match officials when evaluating DOGSO. Referees not only have to decide whether DOGSO exists (and therefore must issue a red card) but they must also assess cases whether advantage should be applied or not.

When assessing advantage, referees must decide whether, by applying advantage, the attacking team would have an opportunity to score a goal through a clear and effective attack on goal. FIFA provides the following guidance to match officials regarding advantage application and DOGSO events:

“If the referee applies advantage during an obvious goal scoring opportunity and a goal is scored directly, despite the opponent’s handling the ball or fouling an opponent, the player cannot be sent off but he may still be cautioned.”

Simply, if the referee applies advantage when a DOGSO foul is committed and a goal is scored, the referee cannot red card the player committing the foul and send him off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. However, the referee may still caution the player for the offense which led to the application of advantage.

U.S. Soccer advises referees to consider the “4 P Principle” when deciding to apply advantage. The “4 Ps” help officials interpret the clear and effective nature of a situation that may be an advantage candidate. The “4 P Principle” focuses on the following:

  • Possession of ball
    Control of the ball by the attacking team/player.
  • Potential for attack
    The ability to continue a credible, immediate and dangerous attack on the opponent’s goal.
  • Personnel
    The skill of the attackers and the attacking team’s numerical advantage in front of the ball.
  • Proximity to opponent’s goal
    Relates to the closeness to goal. The closer to the opponent’s goal, the more effective the advantage.

Video Clip 2: San Jose at Philadelphia (46:29)
This clip involves a dynamic decision on the part of the referee. The referee is faced with two options: Call a foul and red card the defender for DOGSO or apply advantage and then caution the defender at the next stoppage of play. Either decision has it merits and the decision as to which option is the best can only be decided by the referee at the moment of the decision. This involves a “feel” for the game, the situation, the players involved and a quick analysis of, at that moment, which option will benefit the fouled team the most.

Examine each option and then decide, for yourself, which of the two options you would chose at this moment of the game:

  1. Apply advantage and then caution the player committing the foul at the next stoppage
    As the holding offense is committed just outside the penalty area, the referee must assess the “4 P Principle” and determine whether the application of advantage is most beneficial to the attacking team. Of importance is the potential for attack. The referee must ask himself, “Does the attacking player/team have a credible, immediate and dangerous attack on the opposing goal?” If the referee believes that the shirt pull is enough to place the attacker (with the ball) in disadvantageous position in terms of a clear opportunity to score a goal, then the referee should not apply advantage. On the other hand, if the referee believes that the attacker has a clear path to goal and the holding offense has no impact on his ability to have an opportunity to score, then the referee should apply advantage. In this case, the referee is required to caution the defender (at the next stoppage) for unsporting behavior due to the tactical nature of the shirt pull.
  2. Deny obvious goal scoring opportunity and red card
    If the referee believes that the foul (shirt pull) prevents the attacker from progressing cleanly with the ball and therefore from having an effective goal scoring opportunity, then the referee should stop the play and send the defender off for “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.” Remember to utilize the “4 D Criteria” for DOGSO to aid in the decision.

Given the dynamic nature of the situation, the referee must “feel” the game and the situation and make a decision based upon the options available. The referee’s position and understanding of the players involved (in particular, the skill level and technical ability of the attacking player) will play an important role in this evaluation.

Looking Forward – Week 16
With the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals in full force, it is vital that match officials evaluate options in all decisions that do not involve 100 percent misconduct. A feel for the big picture is important in managing the game and deciding the best option for each decision. Preventative officiating and the use of command presence/personality help to increase the options available.