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Question Number: 23684

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/18/2010

RE: comp./adult Adult

richard marnhout of pleasant hill , ca. u.s.a. asks...

As the referee of a rather contentious u-19 boys' match., I witnessed two teammates going for an air ball played to mid field. One teammate was right in front of the other and when they went up for the ball, the player in front took out his teammate with an elbow right to the head.The struck boy went down like a polled ox, his nose bleeding.
I do not doubt that the player in front thought the boy behind him was an opponent,given the surprise he showed when he saw who went down, but since I can't read their minds I can't use that criteria.
I sent off the player who struck his teammate
(violent conduct)but was chastised for this by a ref (state 5)who thought that it should have been a yellow, given that it was not an opponent and 'could' have been an accident. I disagree.Accident or no, what I saw was dangerous.
Any comments?

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

The criteria for sending off for violent conduct includes any action which involves excessive force either when: it is teammate against teammate as here; against a member of the referee team, anyone not a player; against an opponent or anyone else off the field; against an opponent when not playing for the ball; or when the ball is not in play.

I am troubled a bit, however, by your assertion that the reason for the red card was the act was dangerous. While using excessive force is dangerous, not all dangerous actions involve excessive force - for example, playing in a dangerous manner is an IDFK restart. Playing in a dangerous manner normally does not involve contact, and definitely not violent contact. Perhaps it would be helpful to use the terms in the LOTG - like violent conduct, or excessive force when asked to justify a call like the one you made, instead of simply defining it as dangerous. Playing with matches is dangerous, but using matches to commit arson is felonious.

Clearly when it is teammate against teammate, we cannot have a DFK offense of striking, so the restart is an IDFK from where the offense occurred in this situation. From your description, you saw two players going up for a ball in the air. The one in front swung his elbow so as to strike the player behind him, and connected violently enough to cause the other player to go down in a heap with a bloody nose. Those facts are enough by themselves, without the necessity of knowing whether they were opponents or not, to send off the striking player for violent conduct.

Perhaps the state 5 should have asked what you saw before giving his opinion, or suggested a caution might, in some circumstances, be a reasonable alternative - and it might, if the contact was indeed accidental or no harm followed. You were the referee here, however, and you witnessed actions which, in your opinion, involved violent conduct - not accidentally done.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Marnhout
A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball. and he is also guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against a team-mate, spectator, match official or any other person.
What you witnessed here was violent conduct and you made the absolute correct decision to dismiss this player. The player intended to do this and it just so happened that he may have made a mistake by thinking that the challenger was an opponent. Nonetheless he still used excessive force and brutality and that is always a dismissal.
The restart here is an IDFK from where the offence occurred.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

One measure for determining when contact above the shoulder deserves a yellow or red card is to consider whether the arm was used as a tool (caution) or as a weapon (sendoff).

In your situation, there is little to indicate the arm was used as a tool (used for balance, normal body movement, no swing of the arm, arm just up, arm out before challenge) and much to indicate that the arm was used as a weapon (excessive force, safety endangered, hard surface hitting soft, elbow up and IN, elbow swung into face; injury).

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