We have an obligation to know and apply the Laws of the Game (LOTG). It is helpful to know that the historical role of the referee was to be the independent judge to whom the teams would “refer” any disagreement. The expectation in the middle of the nineteenth century was that gentlemen (organized sports being the province of the privileged) should be able to play a game with minimal involvement of the judge.
Over time, this role began to be referred to (no pun intended) as the “referee” (well, maybe a little intended). And over time, unfortunately, the need for the referee became greater. That the referee is still the person that gets involved (or interferes, as a coach might put it) only as necessary is embedded in the Laws of the Game in concepts such as “trifling offenses”, “advantage”, and “if in the opinion of the referee”. This last term, commonly designated IITOOTR, is to give the referee the leeway to NOT get involved when it is appropriate, or get MORE involved when it is necessary.
At the November meeting of the SRANJ, State Referee Emeritus Barry Towbin provided a presentation on referee crew teamwork. He led a discussion of the referees in the room around several topics critical to successful referee teamwork. Barry challenged referees in the room with questions and used their answers as well as their comments and questions to augment his presentation.
At the October meeting of the SRANJ, Alan Brown, NJ State Director of Assessment, provided a clinic on handling, or “hand balls”. He described the wording in Law 12 and then the guidance for how referees should apply it. He stated that referees must first determine whether handling has occurred, then, if it did, where it occurred (for the restart) and whether misconduct was involved. He used video clips to make the following points: Read the rest of this entry
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
State Referee Emeritus (and NJSDI) Derek Von Langen delivered a USSF presentation on managing injuries at the May meeting of the SRANJ. He discussed the Laws of the Game that reference injury management, and then presented the USSF position on injury management in youth and amateur soccer. He stated that the Laws of the Game state that a referee shall stop play only for serious or severe injury. What constitutes serious or severe is up to the referee’s judgment on that day in that match. It will depend on the age and expectations of the players.
With youth players, and even with most amateur players, safety is the overriding concern. For U-10 any time a player is on the ground from a possible injury, we shall treat it as serious and STOP THE MATCH. As the players get older, we might wait a moment to see if they get up, but if there is any doubt, we STOP THE MATCH. For any obvious severe or serious injury, we MUST STOP THE MATCH.
Over the first few weeks of the season I have had the opportunity to observe or work with several dozen referees. Each had strengths as well as areas for additional development, as we all do. One of the more common areas for improvement is verbal communications. This is also one of the easiest areas to improve – but it takes a little effort!
As referees, we can be our own worst enemies by the words we choose to communicate. For example, after a coach complains that his player was pushed, having been illegally charged from behind, we should not say “It wasn’t a foul because the player did not use her hands.” If you did not see the charge to the back, simply say that, but advise the coach you will watch for it (and watch for it!).
Above is an obvious example of digging yourself a hole. There are other situations, however, that can best be avoided by using the “Language of the Laws”. Examples:
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.)
With the Nani send-off in the Man U-Real Madrid UEFA Champions League match on March 5, it may be a good time to review the criteria for judging Serious Foul Play. The following was originally published by US Soccer in its “Week in Review” series on May 6, 2010.
Red Card Challenges: Endangering the Safety of the Opponent and Excessive Force
Match officials must be constantly diligent in their effort to ensure player safety and deal with incidents of 100 percent misconduct. For example, referees must be able to successfully identify those situations that clearly meet all criteria for endangering the safety of the opponent and the use of excessive force (both components of red card challenges). To assist officials with deciphering red card tackles, U.S. Soccer has established the SIAPOA criteria:
- Speed of play and the tackle
The faster the tackler is moving, the greater the force and likelihood of endangering the safety of the opponent. Additionally, speed also equates to less control of the challenge and the less likely the attacker can cleanly win the ball.
The intent of the tackler. Was the tackle intended to send a message or to cleanly win the ball?
- Aggressive nature
Did the tackler lunge for the ball with one or both feet? Consideration should be given to the distance between the attacker and the tackler at the time the tackler leaves his feet. The further the distance, the less control the tackler has of his actions and the less likely the tackler is to play the ball. Are cleats up and exposed to the opponent?
- Position of the tackler
In particular, his legs (height of the tackler’s leading leg and the follow-up action by the tackler’s trailing leg).
- Opportunity to play the ball
Was the ball within playing distance? Or, was the ball already past the tackler at the time the tackler’s feet came in contact with the opponent. Tackles from behind and from the side (outside of the peripheral vision of the attacker with the ball) increase the likelihood contact will need to be made with the attacker prior to playing the ball.
- Atmosphere of the game
Referees must consider the overall temperature of the match and the player in question. Has an aggressive attitude been displayed to that point? Is frustration amongst or between the players evident?
In relation to the Laws of the Game, IFAB approved a clarification of the wording of Law 11 (Offside, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game). The IFAB agreed that the current wording is not precise enough, regarding “interfering with an opponent/gaining an advantage.” The new approved wording can be found in the agenda on FIFA.com (see below).
Brief reports were also provided on Additional Assistant Referees, and the decision approved last year related to Law 4 (The Players’ Equipment) with regards to the headscarf – to allow a trial, non-mandatory period – the IFAB reiterated that a final decision will be made at next year’s Annual General Meeting.
Finally, a proposal to review Law 8 (The Start and Restart of Play “Dropped Ball”) was postponed for further consultation, with a new proposal to be presented at the 2014 Annual General Meeting. An agreement was also made to form a working group to review the full Laws of the Game to improve clarity where appropriate.
Amendments to the Laws of the Game taken today by the IFAB come into effect on 1 July 2013. Read the rest of this entry
If you work high school and/or college as well as USSF, NISOA’s Rules Interpreter has published a great cross-reference of the differences in the various regulations. You can find the document here at the “In the Opinion of the Referee” blog.
The ITOOTR site is a great reference. I will be preparing a list of other helpful referee web sites shortly…