Category Archives: Lesson Posts

Unusual Situations

Assistant referee during the match FC Barcelon...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the past nine days, I have encountered a number of situations that I have not seen often (two were in fact firsts for me). I share these so you might recognize a similar situation and be better prepared. Read the rest of this entry


New Season, Old Tactics

Corner Kick | 111/365

(Photo credit: mfhiatt)

In between validating team rosters, I tried to keep an eye on the Liverpool-Manchester United match on NBC Sports. The match was interesting on many levels. Coming in, Liverpool is off to a great start. Everyone is following David Moyes’ progress at ManU with Sir Alex gone.

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A Question about Crew Support

Bench View of Rocha Sending Off

(Photo credit: joncandy)

As a result of my recent email about AR responsibilities, I received the following question:

When you stated “Support the referee if questioned by coaches/players – NEVER indicate that the referee made a bad call!”, what if I were to signal a foul that clear to everyone but the center waved the call off?  How can I support the center ref if he disagrees with my call, especially if I am on the coaches’ side and as the game continues the coach comes over to talk to me during play?  They will probably ask why the center did not agree. What should I say?

That is a great question! (And somewhat ironic that it comes at the time of the retirement announcement of Sir Alex – one of the most famous referee bait-ers)

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Goal Keeper Handling and Misconduct

Simon Mignolet

Simon Mignolet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 79th minute of the April 20 Sunderland-Everton match, Sunderland’s Larsson possessed a ball near mid-field and sent a strike on his own net. Sunderland keeper Mignolet had to leap to catch the ball and keep it from entering for an own goal. So what did Referee Phil Dowd have? Was this a “back pass” violation?

The “back pass” violation, like “hand ball”, is shorthand for the uninitiated. We referees recognize that there is no Law prohibiting a pass back to the keeper. There is not even a Law that prohibits the keeper from picking up a pass from a teammate – unless the pass was kicked deliberately by the foot of the teammate (we note also that the GK cannot pick up a throw-in from a teammate).A GK may handle a ball that is played (without trickery) by the head, chest, thigh, knee or shin of a teammate – in fact any legal touch by a teammate on a ball in play except a touch by the foot.

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Four Minutes – Three Fouls – Two Cautions – One Objective

English: David Silva playing for Manchester City

English: David Silva playing for Manchester City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an interesting sequence of events in the first half of Manchester City’s 4 – 0 win over Newcastle in the EPL Saturday. Background: Manchester City and Newcastle are at opposite ends of the table, and Man City still has an outside chance at the Premier League title. Newcastle is struggling and does not have the talent possessed by Man City. In the 16th minute there was a clumsy challenge by Newcastle’s Cisse on Man City’s Lescott resulting in a free kick.

The sequence: in the 26th minute, Newcastle’s Sissoku slides into a 50-50 ball near the half line as Man City’s Zabaleta is approaching the ball from Zabaleta’s right. Sissoku arrives just after Zambaleta clears the ball, and fouls him. The tackle looked bad in slow motion, as Sissoku slid studs-first into Zambaleta’s ankle. Man City players and bench personnel complained about the tackle. Referee Neil Swarbrick was in a good position to see the play. He made it clear to everyone that he saw the play and that it was a fifty-fifty challenge. He then had a very strong word to Sissoku to take it down a notch.

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Handling Deliberations in Sunderland

Referee Chris Foy had his hands full in Sunderland with three different handling incidents.

Chris Foy shows Mark Bunn the red card
Norwich City’s goalkeeper Mark Bunn, #28, walks off the pitch after receiving a red card by the referee Chris Foy, left. Photograph: Scott Heppell/AP

In the 30th minute, a poor header by a Norwich defender about forty yards out sent the ball backwards into no man’s land about twenty-five yards out. Norwich keeper Bunn comes out of the penalty area towards the ball as it is approached by Sunderland attacker Graham. Bunn jumps into the air as the ball hits in front of him. He has his fists to his face with his elbows extended in front of him. The ball catches him on the right elbow and his chest while he is in the air. When a player leaves the ground and contacts the ball with his arms, it is deliberate handling (the player deliberately moved his arms to a position they would not normally be). Referee Foy awarded a direct free kick for the deliberate handling.

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The Referee’s Role in Determining an Offside Offense


(Photo credit: fchmksfkcb)

Our colleague Mark Mittelstadt suggested this topic after watching the West Bromley Albion – Swansea City EPL match Saturday. It reminded me of an embarrassing moment early in my career.

In the first high-level regional tournament I ever worked, I was AR1 with a National Referee in the middle. My attacking team had a corner kick on my corner. I set up for it even with the goal line as two defenders were on the posts. The attacker mis-struck the ball in the direction of the penalty spot. The two defenders immediately came off the goal line towards the ball. I moved left with the second to last opponent and noted the kick taker was now offside. An attacker and defender converged on the ball and it returned to the kick taker. I popped the flag. One problem… the ball had come off the defender, not the kick taker’s teammate. The referee recognized what happened and waved me down. (In my defense, it appeared that the ball had been returned by the kick taker’s teammate.)

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Houston-DC United DOGSO?

English: Pat Onstad of Houston Dynamo making a...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the 39th minute of the Houston – DC United match of March 2, Referee Baldomero Toledo awarded a penalty kick when Houston’s Clark was tripped by DC’s Kolb. The video can be seen here:

There are a number of things we can learn from the sequence.

Toledo was caught up field when the ball was quickly cleared by Houston and a DC defender that might have slowed the counterattack slipped and fell. Toledo was actually back-pedaling in the opposite direction almost twenty yards away when Clark broke free. He then began a shallow diagonal sprint from attacking right to attacking left. This unfortunately left him directly behind the players 35 yards deep when the contact occurred. After the contact, Toledo waited for the follow-up shot that was smothered and then blew the whistle. This allowed him to close the distance to about fifteen yards when the whistle blew. He then continue his sprint towards the foul as Houston tried to take another shot on goal, ending up in the PA at about the time everyone was looking around for what he was going to call. The lesson here: continue our run when we are caught out of position, especially when selling a call is enhanced with proximity.

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The Virtues of the Slow Whistle

English: Marouane Fellaini for Everton

English: Marouane Fellaini for Everton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The February 2 match with Aston Villa at Everton was exciting, with Everton erasing a two-goal deficit. Fellaini’s goal in added time that leveled the match was an example of the virtues of a slow whistle, especially in the Penalty Area.

In the 90th+3 minute, Everton was awarded a corner kick. Referee Michael Jones had previously dealt with several Everton/Aston Villa dust-ups on set pieces. He was monitoring activity just inside the PA. Everton was using a basketball-style screen to free up attackers rotating to goal. After the first Everton player rotated in, Jones was focused on some minor shoving in the area of the screen. Everton #7 (Jelavic) then rotated through the same screen towards the far post, marked by Aston Villa #6 (Clark). When Jelavic cut towards the near post, Clark, having lost a defensible position, shoved him with two arms from behind, knocking him to the ground.

From the camera angles, it appeared to be a clear foul, and within the view of Jones. Clark demonstrated the classic hands in the air of the offender. Jelavic did not show any obvious signs of a dive, and quickly tried to get to his feet as the ball approached, as the push occurred with the ball in the air. Some referees would have awarded a penalty kick at that moment. Jones did not.

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Arsenal-Tottenham 17 November with Howard Webb

If we have aspirations of pursuing a referee career and upgrading to Grade 7 and beyond, the first half of today’s Gunners-Hot Spurs match offers some interesting development points. While Howard Webb is not everyone’s favorite referee, he was faced with several critical match incidents. If you have a chance to catch a replay, or recorded it, you may find it instructional.

In the 17th minute, Adebayor left his feet and made contact with his studs using excessive force in a tackle attempt. Referee Webb issued a red card. He did not fall into the trap of thinking that you shouldn’t dismiss a player early in the match. The referee did not create the man-down situation, the player did.

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