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Question Number: 27615

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/22/2013

RE: U11 C3 Traveling soccer team Under 12

Rosana Connell of Minneapolis, MN United States asks...

We are at a State tournament game. We are in the box, a player from opposite team drops to the ground. It is not clear what happened. Referee doesn't whistle. After a few seconds he sees girl on the ground. He calls her coach. They attend to her. Referee talks to sideline referee. Comes back and talks to coach of opposite team who is holding girl in his arms. They talked for about 20 seconds. Referee decides to give a Penalty Kick to the other team. They score and we lose the game.
Do you think he followed the rules? (we are at State) We believed he was talked into PK by other coach, because he felt bad about girl in his arms. What do you think? Can you explain what he did? Can we request a re-match? Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Rosana,

In the situation where a player drops to the ground in the penalty area and the referee isn't sure what happened, there's no problem with the referee consulting with the assistant referee either when the ball goes out of play, or if he stops play to attend to the injury. Depending on the advice of the assistant referee, he can then award a penalty kick based on an incident that occurred while the ball was in play.

It's possible that the AR may not have flagged for a penalty kick (or possible he did make some small signal which was missed by the referee) if he thought that the referee did have a view of the incident. If the referee has seen it, the AR generally shouldn't be flagging - particularly in the penalty area!

I would hope that nothing the coach could say would influence this decision - only the AR should be able to have an input here.

It's possible that the referee made his decision on the penalty kick, but then wanted to consult with the coach (perhaps to give instructions on when the injured player can return to the field) before progressing with that kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rosana
The most important part of this is the reason the player was left lying on the ground and the discussion that the referee had with the assistant referee. If the AR said that he saw a foul incident on the injured player inside the penalty area then the restart is a penalty kick. That is allowed for in the Laws of the Game and the decision just has to be made before the next restart of play so there can be a delay in the award of the penalty / free kick.
It is highly unlikely that a referee at a State competition was 'talked into' such an important decision by a coach nor would a referee 'feel bad' about an injury so as to award a penalty. If it was unseen by the match officials the CR would simply say "Sorry we did not see what happened there" and only give what is seen. If neither the CR nor the AR saw anything then the restart is a dropped ball from where the ball was when play was stopped.
Now I suspect that from your limited description that the AR could have made the call based on what he saw or perhaps confirmed for the CR his 'view' of what happened. The AR could have also raised his flag for a foul and it was missed for a few moments by the CR. If the incident merited disciplinary action the offender may not have been identifiable with so many player in the penalty area so no card was issued.
So the sequencing here tells a story in my opinion. Play is stopped, the coach is called on, the CR speaks with the AR and then goes into the penalty area to sort out the injury situation. The decision IMO has already been made based on the conversation between the two match officials as the CR is not going to do something that is a 'guess' and where there has been a conversation discussing the incident.
The CR is expected to deal with the injury and he could also have informed the coach that the player had to leave the FOP and that the restart is a penalty kick.
I also suspect that the CR was certainly asked about this decision by your team officials after the end of the game and he may have given his explanation which is the end of the matter. It is not a decision that can be appealed as there is no misapplication of the Law.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Having worked State level games I can attest that even at the youngest levels of play,such as your team, referee assignors are very particular as to whom they assign Center assignments to. I doubt your referee was influenced by the opposing coach or the injury as to his awarding a penalty kick.
As Ref McHugh points out, the sequence of events indicates the decision was made after conferring with the Assistant Referee. The Laws Of the Game provide for the AR to give input and the Referee may act upon that input even if he had not seen anything himself. If the Referee and the AR have worked together before it makes this all the easier and many assignors like to assign teams at this level when at all possible. The last State Tournament I worked, 4 of us that were all very experienced and had worked together for years were assigned a field for each day and we decided among us who would center and who would assist each game.

Even if the center had never met the AR before, he would have to assume the AR was competent or he/she would not be working a State level game of any age group. Most tournaments do not allow protests for any reason. Even if allowed, this referee did not misapply the Laws so there would be no basis for an appeal.

Congratulations to your team for even making it to the State Tournament. That in itself is quite an accomplishment

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

The key to the answer to your question is that the referee consulted with the assistant referee. The referee is permitted to call a foul and award a penalty kick for an offense seen by the assistant referee (but not seen by the referee). Based on your information, the logical inference is that the AR saw that a foul was why the opponent fell to the ground.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

My only concern would be with the mechanics the officials used. Obviously this event did not proceed smoothly or convincingly. Regardless, I agree that it should/would be only the AR's input of importance and that the referee's decision was most likely based on that input and not any subsequent discussion with the opposing coach. If anything, my opinion is that the referee was probably checking on the well being of the other player prior to awarding the PK. This, in and of itself, is commendable BUT it is also important that the referee be clear as to the decision and why - and that seems to be lacking.

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