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Question Number: 24316

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/14/2010

RE: Competive Adult

John of Groton, MA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 22950

Would it ever be appropriate to issue a caution for persistent infringement when the pattern of fouls is by one team in general? That is, the fouls are not necessarily committed by one particular player on that team or against one particular opponent, and no one foul merits a caution when considered by itself.

I cannot find any documentation to support such a decision, but I think I've seen this somewhere (NFHS rules perhaps).

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
One of the duties of the referee is to ensure the game is played as intended and that includes the absence of persistent infringement by a team. If the referee believes that a team is persistently and deliberately infringing the Laws of the Game then the referee is quite entitled to take action. The referee should clearly indicate that the pattern has been observed and warn the team through the captain that the behaviour has been noted and disciplinary action will be taken if it continues.
The purpose of the caution is to tell players that the behaviour is not acceptable and very soon they will get the message when the referee takes stern action through a number of cautions. If the referees does not take action it can lead to frustration and retaliation which the referee must ensure does not happen..

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

Referees must be vigilant to protect great players from multiple fouls by the opposing team. No one should be fouled seven times in a half because the fouls came from seven different opponents. When the referee observes the tactic, let them know! Shout that this is the third foul on #6, and it is not acceptable. (IMO, its not a good idea to tell them what you will do on the fourth foul - - what you do will depend on what they do.)

If the fouls continue, however, caution the next one to foul.

In the match report, the USSF advises that the caution is reported as unsporting behavior if the caution is to someone participating in series of team fouls against an opponent. Persistent infringement should be used when the cautioned player has committed multiple offenses.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy

John, it would be inappropriate to caution a player for persistent infringement if he is not guilty of that. That caution is reserved for those players, who foul too many times in a relatively short period of time. There are other ways of snuffing out the systemic fouling by a team. If you see inordinate numbers of fouls it means the game is getting a bit out of hand. At the next foul have a stern chat with the guilty party, and announce that you have had enough and ask for fair play. The next foul you may issue a caution for unsporting behaviour. This should put order back into the game and not let the problem escalate into something more serious.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

The caution for misconduct for persistently infringing the LOTG can apply to just one player on a team, or to the last player in a series of fouls against the opponent.

From the 2010/2011 USSF Advice to Referees:

Persistent infringement occurs when a player repeatedly commits fouls or certain other infringements. It is not necessary for the multiple fouls to be of the same type or all to be direct free kick fouls, but infringements must be among those covered in Law 12 or involve repeated violations of Law 14. In most cases, the referee should warn the player that the pattern has been observed and, upon a subsequent violation, must then issue the caution. If the pattern is quickly and blatantly established, then the warning should be omitted and the referee should take immediate action. In determining whether there is persistent infringement, all fouls are considered, including those to which advantage has been applied.

The referee must also recognize when a single opponent has become the target of fouls by multiple players. As above, upon recognizing the pattern, the referee should clearly indicate that the pattern has been observed and that further fouls against this opponent must cease. If another player commits a foul against the targeted opponent, that player must be cautioned but, in this case, the misconduct should be reported as unsporting behavior, as must any subsequent caution of any further foul against that same targeted opponent. Eventually, the team will get the message.

Examples of persistent infringement include a player who:

? Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned

? If playing as a goalkeeper, wastes time, having previously been warned or penalized for this behavior

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