Case Study: Two Reds, Please

Misconduct in the Barclays Premier League is reaching a fever pitch as teams jockey for European places and to avoid the drop to the Football League.

Two recent red card incidents help to illustrate how red card mechanics can vary from game to game, depending on the situation.

In the first incident, Referee Lee Mason acts quickly and decisively, taking about 2 seconds to decide that Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany should be sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity.  Mason as a very clear view of the entire field, sees the foul, and requires no information from his assistant referees to reach his decision.

In the second incident, Referee Michael Oliver faces a similar yet quite different situation.  While he is in good position to see the foul and clearly and confidently points to the penalty spot, he needs time and information to determine if all four conditions for DOGSO have been met (Direction, Distance to goal, Defenders, Distance to ball).  Oliver seeks information from the Assistant Referee – likely about the number of defenders – and makes his decision in about 10 seconds.

For our purposes, the “correctness” of each decision is less important than the methods used by each referee to reach the decision.  Mason had a good view of everything in front of him and reached a decision quickly.  Oliver’s view was potentially obscured with several players in the penalty area, so he took several seconds before sending off Spurs defender Kaboul.

Both of these approaches are quite appropriate for their respective situations and serve as an instruction to us that we needn’t always use the same approach when deciding about a match’s ultimate sanction.

Click the arrows in the lower right corner of the video to go to fullscreen mode.

9 responses to “Case Study: Two Reds, Please”

  1. This is more about being sure and unsure than using an approach. You have an example of a Referee who is dead-on sure and, even though there is really no need to whip out the red card so quickly as there is no violence, the decision is clear. In your other example the Referee is not so sure and uses equipment not available to 99% of officials to receive help.
    Being more clear on whatever that instruction is that you are trying to express would help those reading and watching your example to better understand that when the time comes that our are unsure about an action and the decision to make that you ask for more information from your AR. Quick should equal no doubt, absolute decisiveness while slow should equal some doubt and more info needed before deciding.


  2. @emarco I think the instruction he is trying to give here in the second example is communication with your AR. Michael Oliver clearly saw the foul and called the PK.

    He was evidently unsure about DOGSO so he asked his AR. Yes, in the BPL they have the luxury of headsets. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t options for a CR & AR to communication on the side line of your local rec field. Same situation and your doing a rec game or even HS game you call the foul, you indicate a PK, and then you run over to your AR on the touchline (s/he already might be heading to the end line to take up the PK position) and you ask the same question Oliver asked in the headset, “Was he past the 2nd to last defender”, or what ever other of the 4Ds you may want to confirm before handing out a Red.

    If you have a great AR he already may know your question and be indicating for a red card before you even start running over.


  3. Nice comparison, but I would add that I think that both decisions are actually incorrect.
    1st incident: Kompany certainly appears to be fouled first before he tugs the Jelavic’s shirt.
    2nd incident: Although Kaboul definitely fouls Eto, he didn’t clearly have possession of the ball when fouled, so I don’t think that it was an obvious goal scoring opportunity. (Also on this one: After looking at it again, Eto looks a little offside as well)


    • I don’t think I can disagree, except to be a bit pedantic about the 1st incident; regardless of whether Kompany was fouled first (and this is the BPL, so we’ve all seen that amount of contact not result in a foul), Kompany’s foul is certainly beyond question. And since it is a foul, it must also be DOGSO, as all 4 D’s are clearly met.


  4. I think that it’s only fair to further add that the Laws give no provision for possession requirement in the calculation of a foul. I think that Oliver decided that DOGSO was in play because Eto’o, in Oliver’s opinion, was going to receive the ball (directly in front of the goalmouth) and be able to play it once. The foul occurring before Eto’o could receive possession denied the…ahem…opportunity for Eto’o.

    Second, I don’t really understand why so many referees get on this site and comment negatively about these FIFA referees. You don’t get to that level by being a hack. A referee has to go through extensive training and review before getting to that level. They know what a foul is. As the author said, “the correctness of these decisions is less important than the methods.” He’s not trying to teach about whether this is a red or that isn’t a red; he’s trying to teach about HOW each decision was reached.


  5. That’s the advantage of being a premier league official, using the equipment available. I know personally I have ran over to talk to an AR before reaching any decision, especially concerning a red card. Better to be slow and correct instead of quick and incorrect. Just my opinion, though.


  6. Possession of the ball is not a criteria for DOGSO. Distance to the goal. Direction of the player. Distance to the ball. number of Defenders. That is foul is definitely a DOGSO


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