With all due apologies to Eddie Floyd, today we look at a case study where a player clearly raises a hand to the face of another player. The fact that this is a sending off really shouldn’t be open for debate (the ignorant protests of commentator Danny Mills notwithstanding). It’s what the US Soccer Federation refers to as “100% Misconduct” and must result in a send off.
What is more intriguing for those of us who referee (well) below the Premier League level to consider is whether a similar issue in one of our matches could be avoided.
You’ll have to wait until about half way through the clip to see a replay of the entire sequence of events, but one wonders whether this ugly incident might have been avoided by whistling for a foul. There were several possibilities to choose from for referee Neil Swarbrick.
That said, at the Premier League level, players are expected to play through physical contact, and are further expected to control themselves, even when they feel aggrieved by the play of an opponent. So, it is understandable that referee Swarbrick chose to allow play to continue.
At the lower levels, however, and especially in the youth game, raging hormones and still developing psychology can conspire to create opportunities for misconduct like this. Given that play was at the halfway line, a foul given in either direction would be very unlikely to have any impact on the outcome of the match.
Referees should consider that “finding a foul” in a situation like this is an opportunity to settle the game and remove some of the ingredients found in a typical recipe for misconduct.