Referee Nuts and Bolts – September 2010

Volume 19, “Referee Nuts and Bolts”, September 2010.

By: Bob Sumpter, NISOA, Florida

This monthly column is written primarily for the college and high school soccer Referee. However, any soccer Referee who wishes to improve personal performance may also find that this series is helpful.

All articles address those BASIC techniques, procedures, practice alternatives, and skills that are sometimes forgotten or overlooked while going through the experiences of soccer refereeing.  The short discussions and accompanying practical tips stress important advice for competent performance.

This August 2010 column includes three discussions entitled:

19-1: “Do I Need to Say More to the Cautioned Player?”

19-2: “Written Misconduct Reports”, and

19-3: “Is It a Pushing or Holding Foul?”

Your comments, questions, and thoughts about these BASIC topics are always welcome. You can contact me directly via email.

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19-1 “Do I Need to Say More to the Cautioned Player?”

The sensible use of a caution will help set the standard of both acceptable and unacceptable conduct for a game.  When properly used a caution demonstrates a limit of conduct so that players understand they will be severely penalized if that standard is breached.

Since the basic procedure for issuing a caution is meant to communicate the action directly and personally to the player being cautioned, it offers an opportunity to help that player understand the seriousness of the behavior for which he/she is being cautioned.

Mechanics guidelines tell the Referee to stop play, get the attention of the player, raise the yellow card for caution,  state to the player he/she is being cautioned, state the reason, record your action (for the after-game written report), indicate the caution and player to the score keeper, and then restart play.

However, if you do choose to say something beyond what is required in the caution procedure, keep it as short as possible, and to the point.

Tip: One way to get the idea of responsibility for personal behavior across to a player is to remind the player being cautioned that he/she has now placed himself/herself half way out of the game.  One more incident of misconduct will require their ejection from the game. (Example: “With this misconduct, you have now put yourself half-way out of this game.”)

Tip: Another way to emphasize the personal responsibility of the player for his/her conduct in the rest of the game is to state that whether or not he/she remains in the balance of the game depends entirely on whether or not their behavior remains acceptable for the balance of the game.  Another act of misconduct will result in an ejection.  (Example: “Whether or not you stay in this game depends entirely on your conduct.”)

Tip:  Remember, if you do decide to say anything beyond what is required in the caution procedure, limit your statement to emphasize the player’s responsibility. Keep it short and to the point. Only say enough to underscore that it is the player’s current and future misconduct that is the only issue involved.  (Example: “You will remain in this game only so along as your conduct remains acceptable.”)

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19-2 “Written Misconduct Reports”

A clearly written misconduct report, that accurately describes a misconduct incident, is important to help insure that an acceptable standard of participant behavior is maintained throughout each season’s competitions.  Creating an acceptable level of participant behavior involves three shared responsibilities.

An acceptable standard of participant behavior is a combination of efforts by the Referee, the team Coaches, and the Competition Authority (e.g., the State High School  Association or college rules writing body,  the university or school, the conference, or the tournament authority).

Your task as Referee, as stated in the rules, requires you to enforce fair play and behavior during the period of your jurisdiction at every game you referee.

The individual university or school who sponsors the team is the most concerned to see that the team representing that institution fulfils the educational and development objectives of that school.

The team coaches are morally and ethically responsible for instilling the principles of fair play and sportsmanship among their players at all times, including during games.

The Competition Authority sets the policy and procedures to define the behavior norms in terms of their institutional educational objectives for sponsoring soccer as an extracurricular school activity.  That authority also determines if follow up punishment is required.  The college soccer rules also provide for some minimum post game punishments, but the Competition Authority has the ability and responsibility to consider stricter measures when considered appropriate.

The State High School Association or college rules writing body is most interested in seeing that the rules are firmly enforced and that the teams comply with all rules stipulations.

The Referee’s submission of a written misconduct report after the game ends is therefore one key to the authority’s ability to judge the incident and correctly determine a need for follow up disciplinary action.

TIP:  Realize the importance of carefully preparing and submitting a timely written report that describes a game misconduct incident clearly, accurately and completely.  Never fail to submit such a timely report.

TIP: The best way to determine if your written report is adequate is to first read it over when finished and then ask yourself: is this clear, accurate, objective, and complete enough so that a person who was not at the game can correctly decide if follow up disciplinary action is needed?

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19-3 Is It a Pushing or Holding Foul?

As a matter of official NFHS Soccer Rules Interpretation, the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee has agreed in the past that placing hands on an opponent in and of itself is not a foul.

The act of placing hands on an opponent only becomes a foul at that point in time when, in the Referee’s opinion, the player either pushes an opponent, holds an opponent, or pulls an opponent, in an attempt to gain, or actually does gain, an advantage over the opponent.

As the current rule is worded, some Referees stop the game unnecessarily to penalize an action that often does not involve a foul, but is merely an act of placing hands upon the opponent without exerting any influence on the opponent’s movement, progress, ball control, or ability to continue to play.

As examples: does a player  lean on the shoulders of an opponent to prevent him/her to jump up in an attempt to head a ball, does a player push an opponent with other than  allowable shoulder-to-shoulder contact to prevent the opponent from playing for or getting to the ball, does a player grab the jersey or arm of an opponent to slow or prevent the opponent’s movement or progress (even if there is no apparent violence in the act), does the fouled player begin to lose his/her composure/temper on repeated acts that you have failed to penalize?

Tip: Think about how you are now judging this one!  Have you looked for the distinction between fair and foul?  Don’t fail to discuss with your Referee colleagues how to better judge such fouls.