Retaliation fouls may occur from a build-up of frustration over time, but they often occur immediately after contact where a player perceives such contact to be a foul. There is a higher risk for quick retaliation by a player when the original contact results in that player losing possession of the ball and facing an imminent attack on their goal.
In the specified clip, the attacking Washington player (in red) is carrying the ball towards the goal line on the flank near AR2. The attacker is tightly defended by the Atlanta player (in orange), who briefly wins the ball at the edge of the penalty area. Although contact exists, the Washington player fairly challenges for the ball and regains an advantageous position in front of the Atlanta defender within the penalty area. In possible retaliation for the previous challenge, the Atlanta defender initiates contact from behind onto the attacker’s ankle, with little attempt or opportunity to play the ball. The force is mild. The challenge is a careless foul for kicking and a Penalty Kick is warranted.
The Referee’s position appears to be initially at an acute angle in relation to the challenge and behind other players who may be blocking a clear line of sight. A wider position on a more traditional diagonal would have given the Referee an unobstructed view of the play, but in either case must recognize the defender’s actions as a penal foul. It is equally important for Assistant Referees to be in line, i.e. “locked in” with the second-to-last-defender (STLD) during the attack. By initially trailing play and then getting slightly ahead of it, AR2 focus and ability to assist the Referee is compromised by not being square to the field, which cuts off a wide field view that should include both the challenge and the position of the Referee. While this foul is the primary responsibility of the Referee, the Assistant Referee’s positioning and orientation contributed to a lack of teamwork and management of the situation.
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