Case Study: A Case of Violent Conduct

Our review of the CAN-USA Women’s Olympic football semi-final continues with a look at an off-the-ball incident.

In the 54th minute of the match, Canada is awarded a free kick in the USA half. The CAN attackers line up on the penalty area line (aka 18-yard line) and prepare for the kick to be delivered. The kick sails high and slowly rolls over the goal line for a goal kick.

Off the ball, however, CAN #14 commits a fairly atrocious act of violent conduct, which, had the referee seen, surely would have result in #14 being sent off. The referee and AR are following the ball, which is appropriate in this case, as an attacker and the GK are moving toward the ball. This may explain why this act of violent conduct wasn’t detected.

I believe the lesson here is that we always have to be vigilant. Some players are very deft at getting away with this type of behavior. This speaks to the need of the crew to constantly maintain focus on the field.

To be clear, I am not criticizing the crew in this match; I don’t believe there was much that could’ve been done differently. I’m using this incident as an opportunity for all of us to learn from.

Case Study: AR2 Sends Off Rafael

Case Study # 18-2013
Date 5 May 2013
Competition Barclays Premier League
Fixture/Result Man Utd 0 – 1 Chelsea
Referee/Badge Howard Webb, FIFA
At Issue AR2 Sian Massey is heavily involved in sending off Man Utd’s Rafael

For the second time in recent weeks, an assistant referee played a crucial role in the decision to send off a player.  The AR in this case was Sian Massey, the only female referee in the Premier League (who, interestingly, is a center referee when she works women’s matches).

The send off is rather straightforward, David Luiz’s silly playacting notwithstanding.  Massey can clearly be seen shouting “FOUL” into her headset, followed by “THAT’S RED!”, to which Referee Webb dutifully produces a red card.

But not before a little pushing and shoving between Chelsea’s Oscar, who was waving the universal “give him a card, ref” signal, and Man Utd pensioner Ryan Giggs, who took exception to this display of dissent, and remonstrated with Howard Webb by doing exactly the same thing.

Referee Webb showed a remarkable amount of restraint in dealing with the pushing and shoving, given his penchant for manhandling players in the past.  Makes one wonder if someone has spoken to the former policeman about proper arrest technique.

Click/tap on the photo to view it fullscreen.  Please no letters from United or Chelsea supporters.  Just having a little fun during the run in.

Case Study: A Send-Off Early In The First Half

Case Study # 17-2013
Date 20 Apr 2013
Competition Barclays Premier League
Fixture/Result Fulham 0 – 1 Arsenal
Referee/Badge Andre Marriner, FIFA
At Issue The referee sends off a player after only 11 minutes

After only 11 minutes of this London derby, Fulham midfielder Steve Sidwell committed a studs-up tackle on Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta.  Referee Andre Marriner did not hesitate to produce a red card, despite the early time of the match (though he started to show the card to Sidwell while the player was still on the ground, a mechanical no-no).

We often hear talk about how we should strive to “keep our cards in our pocket” in an attempt to manage a game effectively.  While that is true, we must also keep in mind that there are certain instances of misconduct where referees are given no discretion.  These scenarios are known as “100% Misconduct” offenses.  Guidance from FIFA and our federations dictate what a referee must do in these situations.

Referee Marriner was faced with a 100% Misconduct offense in this situation.  Sidwell’s tackle is clearly executed with a level of aggressiveness that endangers the safety of an opponent.  That being the case, the guidance we have received from USSF mandates a send-off.

It takes courage and conviction to administer a send-off early in a match; we must be mentally prepared to do so when necessary.


Case Study: Atkinson Shows Grace Under Fire

In a recent Premier League match between Sunderland and Newcastle United, referee Martin Atkinson typified the English style of player management: cool, calm and collected, despite circumstances that tested him.

In the 25th minute of the match, Atkinson sent off Newcastle player Cheick Tiote for violent conduct when the player went into a challenge studs up after the whistle sounded for a foul.

The send off is fairly straightforward, as we see in frames 1-6 of the gallery (click to enlarge).

In the ensuing nonsense that seems to accompany all soccer/football matches these days, Newcastle player Shola Ameobi (#23) approaches Atkinson aggressively and enters his personal space to argue against the send off of his teammate.

The intensity level was quite high, with Atkinson having just sent off a player, early, in a derby (rivalry) match. In spite of these conditions, Atkinson remains a picture of composure. He shows #23 a yellow card for dissent, and keeps the card out as a clear threat that he is willing to use it again. All without a raised voice, “away” gestures, and or even the appearance of concern.
While Atkinson’s approach may not work in every situation, it is clear that his composed demeanor helped calm the situation. As much “stick” as the referees seem to get in England, it is clear the FA and PGMO are doing something right.

Case Study: A Deserved Send Off That Shouldn't Have Been

In a recent Premier League match between Swansea City FC and Sunderland AFC, new Premier League Referee Roger East sent off Swansea defender Chico Flores in the 71st minute for serious foul play.

Flores was pursuing an attacking Sunderland player down the left touchline when the ball bounced high. Flores foolishly tried to play the ball with his boot near his opponents’ face. Replays show that the heel of Flores boot grazes the back of his opponents’ shoulder. Not that you would know from the pitiful reaction of the attacker.

Despite this, it was a foolish challenge for which Flores should expect to be sent off. At this level, players know not to put a boot near the head of an opponent, especially when moving towards them.

I only wish the FA would retrospectively punish the Sunderland player for his disgraceful playacting. A man can dream, can’t he?