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Question Number: 30267

Character, Attitude and Control 4/7/2016

RE: ECNL High School

Alex of corvallis, Oregon usa asks...

This question is a follow up to question 4930

follow up remark rather then question.
My daughter was arm stiffed full force, she planted her foot not to lose her balance.ResultL torn ACL, she is committed to a D1 school. a year with no competitive soccer. Lazy referee was arbitrating the game, needless to say.
if referees could call contact already! anytime you have a lazy referee that does not call contacts, you end up with escalating ' violence' and you always end up with a kid with a broken arm ( where spectators 'oooh' at the site of the broken bone) , concussions ( passed out on the field - parents have to take the kid to the hospital)

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Alex,
any time a youth or in fact if anyone is injured while playing football is not a good thing. I realize you are upset, angry and disappointed for your daughter. I am very sorry your daughter has torn the ACL . That particular knee injury is devastating to woman's soccer in general

No matter how hard I might try to be open minded I realize I see from my perspective. I dislike seeing a generalized finger of blame at referees as the only reason there are injuries even if it is on occasion true. It also rests how players are taught and their own choices. Roy Keanne of Man U was considered a great player yet he was ruthless. Roy ended Håland's career after he had make fun on Keane for simulation, so he deliberately set out to injure him, that's planned calculated cold revenge
When do we hold those who play to injure their opponents' accountable? I have to wonder at the example and why he was not banned from the sport!

Maybe instead of blaming just the referee, take a shot at the parents and coaches for setting the examples and the player who committed the foul does she not bear some responsibility? If the referee failed to punish, then no free kick, no caution or card but did the referee commit the foul? No.
Not all referees are as aware or as informed on the LOTG or great at identifying fouls as some! Nor does a certain angle of view always show what is required to be seen. I suspect few take up the whistle just to be yelled at but I can agree that good intentions do not make a good referee. Yet it is ludicrous to wave the arms in despair and demand we call all contact. I doubt at a youth soccer match the blood hawks are out as much as other blood sports to get excited at the prospect of a young child crying.

Lazy referees that are not able to stay with fast play or recognize foul play correctly, even if they believe they are donating time and services really do not benefit the kids in competitive matches. It is likely that when the referee has little effect the main drive then comes from the touchlines to escalate the already dangerous situation if players feel unprotected.

As a coach and as a referee I teach players to treat the referee as a match condition just like a corner post, the weather or the pitch surface. You get no back chat off a post, no relief from the elements or excuses for the wrong footwear when its slippery out.

As a coach because I am a know it all referee my ego is as big as it needs be, I must often refrain from going bat crap crazy on some of the on-field antics of the CR/ARs but also the opposing coaches and parents and players. My players, my parents, my staff do not act disrespectful or criticize on field officials. My job is to prepare them to play and that means allowing the garbage to be flushed when it rears as much as accepting the consequences of their own actions. There are ways of approaching referees, IF the referee is receptive. I have annoyed many a CR but have escaped being thrown out barely at least most of the times lol.

I advocate for my players of course but I try to encourage and support any CR who if losing control of a physical match but is trying hard to address it, to promote the safety of both teams. My players are not saints, they will retaliate if the referee is not going to look after them! The idea of pulling my team has occurred to me on more than one occasion because the match is unraveling and the CR seems unwilling or unable to grip it by the throat. I have gone and spoken with the opposing coach directly, asking him if the CR is not going to get it under control is he willing with me to yank off the players, seemingly getting hot. It does not always work . Certain coaches get fixated at finding fault in one direction.

When I was teaching parents about refereeing and making decisions. I gave 25 beepers to each teams parents to push every time they though there was a foul. The were scattered about the field. Out of 59 challenges how many beepers went off 100% of the time? How often was less than half? 60%, 75%, 85%, 95%? How many pressed AFTER the referee whistle? How many pressed when there was no whistle?

One of the most visual demonstrations is to surround a few players with groups in a large 360 degree circle and given them a ball to run on to as those watching from the outer circle decides who fouls who and how. I have the players all fall down then all arise except one. I then get the stories of the 360 degrees groups of parent referees who are not permitted to share their findings. They write them down. I collect them, reading them in the order to make the most impact! Was it the free hand push by white , or the arm pull or grab over the shoulder by blue, both players griping each other jersey, the one white who ran interference What restart indfk dfk cards? or is it the blue guy with the knife in his backside lying on the ground and not getting up until we roll him over and see the knife sticking out? Fake knife! trying to make a point no hurt him Medical personal we have a very serious injury. HOW COULD YOU NOT SEE THAT ? Because you were not looking from the correct angle to see it.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Alex
No one like injuries and they do happen most times accidentally. Rarely do player set out to injure an opponent.
I consider myself to be a no nonsense, 100 % committed, get around the pitch type of referee. I referee at a high level and I am assigned games that are likely to be difficult probably because of my experience and because I adopt zero tolerance plus I have a reputation for strong match control. Now despite all that injuries do happen as part of challenges, twists, etc. in my games. Yes I set out my stall early in the game yet even despite that I nor for that matter any other referee can prevent incidents / injuries happening either accidentally or deliberately.
Referee Dawson mentions the Keane / Haaland injury. Keane was sent off by Referee David Elleray for that horror tackle. Indeed it was the 4th time that Referee Elleray had dismissed Keane so it is not as if Keane did not know what would happen. In addition there was history between the players as Keane had torn his ACL by stubbing his leg in the turf in a game some 12 months previous between the clubs with Haaland accused him of faking an injury in a bid to stop the referee from brandishing a card for simulation. He was not to know that Keanes ACL had ruptured and to add insult to injury Keane as he lay in pain was in fact booked.
The point I make is that Referee David Elleray a highly respected headmaster and strong disciplinarian was considered a no nonsense referee with strong match control could not prevent this incident happening. Nor could the referee in the previous incident where Keane in the rough and tumble of sport stubbed his foot and got injured.
While I have no direct knowledge of womens / girls soccer in the US some of the videos that I look at on the web show a very competitive level of soccer. The competitive conditions in the game are set by the coaches, players, etc and the referee is the one then charged with trying to control that. There is a responsibility on the clubs to set the standards of competitiveness and behaviour every much as the referees.
I recall the now infamous 2006 WC game between Holland and Portugal where Russian referee Valentin Ivanov was forced to hand out a record four red cards and an unprecedented 16 yellow cards, both of which are records in any FIFA tournament. Referee Ivanov was a highly respected FIFA official yet despite his efforts which included a caution in the 2nd minute could not maintain control of the teams. I might add that the referee took much of the criticism when in fact neither team showed any control or discipline. Many of the fouls had the potential for injury.
Injuries do happen and we all do our best to prevent them. A relation of mine jumped down from the rear of a truck and did his ACL. Basketball, netball which I consider to be a limited contact sports have ACL injuries so they do happen innocently and / or with slight contact.
For those referees reading this it highlights the importance of safety in all aspects of soccer and the responsibility placed on them.
As to your daughters unfortunate injury I trust she will make a full recovery. Emotions are always raw with any serious injury that requires surgery. Unfortunately it is now an all too common injury yet the recovery rates are excellent. I wish your daughter a speedy full recovery.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I understand you're upset about your daughter's injury - but why would a referee call 'contact'? This isn't netball, 'contact' isn't a foul. Physical challenges are permitted. So that answers that part of your question.

As for stiff arming....To a large extent referees will officiate the match to the player's expectations. Watch a televised match, for isntance. How much holding and pushing is let go in those games? The argument could be made that letting any go is wrong as it is affecting play, but if the players are happy to play with that sort of physicality, then perhaps the referee only needs to intervene on incidents above a certain level? The game is there for the players, so should the referee be stamping out something the players aren't bothered by? Nobody enjoys an unnecessary amount of free kicks - and of course, it would be unfair for all concerned if one referee officiated with a completely different standard to all others.

Take dissent for instance. Personally, I believe absolute zero tolerance should be enforced. But when I referee I can't apply that - I have to referee with consideration that a certain amount of dissent seems to be widely accepted. While that makes me part of the problem, a one man vendetta creates other problems. So, we all referee to how the game is expected to be played rather than a strict interpretation of any arm-based contact which affects an opponent, no matter how slight, is a push - or any contact between legs is a kick.

But what is accepted also changes at each level. The shirt pulling and holding at the pro level is not accepted in juniors.

Stiff arming is a tricky one. By the letter of the law it's a definite foul. But if I'm refereeing and a number of players are doing it and not a single opponent seems bothered by it, then is it really something I should be calling? I'm probably stricter on this sort of 'tactic' than quite a few referees, but when I do penalise it, the decision tends to be met with bewilderment by both teams!

It can be difficult when 2 teams play in different ways.

In short, it can be a difficult balance. And unfortunately, freak accidents happen - and had the referee blown the whistle for that push, it still would have happened. Nobody is responsible for a freak accident like your daughter has suffered, but I wish her all the best with her recovery.

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