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Question Number: 31945

Mechanics 10/27/2017

RE: U5 and up to high school rec, select and competiti High School

mary Ramirez-de-Arellano of damascus, MD United States asks...

Recently in a high temperature girls high school soccer match a goalkeeper screamed at me that I wasn't protecting her. An eager forward had run into her while trying to score and kneed her in the forehead. I had not seen that. I looked more carefully at the angry keeper and the forward. the latter said, 'It was an accident'> Her demeanor led me to believe her. I then asked the keeper if she was o.k? To which she responded, 'Never mind, you don't care!'

The goal keeper got involved later in a scuffle in the penalty area and again claimed I wasn't protecting her. She got hold of the ball, the game continued. She didnt complain of injury. After the match was over one of that keeper's coaches came up to me and told me my job was to protect the players. I told him he was right. (What else could I say?) His team had won the match, by the way.

So what do you highly experienced referees look for when the ball is moving toward the penalty area and there is a lot of heat on both sides? I know it is paramount that we referees keep players safe and I feel badly that that keeper and coach thought I was shirking my duties. I want to learn from this uncomfortable situation and handle it more comfortably next time. Thanks for your attention to my question.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mary
Welcome to the unpleasant side of the game. I can assure you that you did nothing wrong yet a player in this case the goalkeeper expects that the referee is an all seeing super being capable of making incredible decisions when the reality is that we can only see what we see from our particular vantage point. I can assure you this us not about seeing everything yet learning to deal with these uncomfortable situations. Even if you saw an offense and cautioned the player there is every chance there would be the same reaction of unhappiness and unpleasantness. There can legacy issues of old from many games where this GK may have been roughed up or injured and she blames every referee in every game for every bit of contact and a coach who supports that. Who knows.
The moment you expressed your concern and was rebuked that suggests to me a player who just has one view of the game and may also be trying to influence the referee in her decision making
When the coach came in I would say I hear you, thanks for your contribution and leave it at that.
Now we all liked to be viewed favorably and that participants opine on us favorably or compliment us that we are doing a good job. I can assure you that is not the case with many in the game. Even the favorable comments I take with a hefty degree of sceptism.
Now such situations can play on our emotions after a game and we do not like it. We have to though learn to deal with it. I would simply blank this from my thinking, view it as an effort to undermine or upset a match official and move on. Over the years I have had occasions of cheap shots from coaches, players such as this when I knew I was 100% correct and it was an attempt to play on a referees mind in a negative way. I have had to pull cards after games, report coaches for misconducts etc. I tell them that the game is over, it is past tense and I move swiftly away to the changing room. I am still learning lessons in such situations and how to deal with such.
My advice is to review the game in your head, take your learning points from it and move on. Do not feel badly about this as you know your role fully, contact happens between players and you did not see contact in one incident. That happens and it is not as if you allowed wholesale targeting of a player go unpunished.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mary,
there are always detractors at EVERY stage and at EVERY level of the game who firmly believe their opinion is the correct version of the truth. Never mind 50% believe you will favour one team over the other so you are an automatic liar the other 50% will choose to think on any incident not to their liking should they be in any discomfort or pain you had no interest in their welfare thus are devoid of compassion. Oh if they only had an inkling of the amount of tolerance we as officials must have to get through certain matches having to listen or bear their ridiculous assumptions claims or dribble.
There will be times when you will be in a poor position to see a knock, be it a collision of legs or arms into the head or a follow through kick catching an outer wedge of the ankle. . I run a circle drill for teams to grasp the difficulties of line of sight by referee when educating them as to why certain things are missed . I place the teams into large circles around the pitch usually in groups of two or three but as many as 15 or more in some cases I had over 120. Each group is to observe from THEIR vantage point a specially conducted event with in the circle of opposing player coming together then write out their decision without consulting ANY of the other groups. You will get each group outlining different things they saw as well as well as some the same: ie blue player A was pulling red B jersey or Player B was swinging a free arm into the head of Player A Or player C the other red player was holding the blue player by draping his arm over the shoulder blue player D was impeding the red player by holding out both arms when the ball was not within playing distance. The red player pushed blue who tripped red . Well you get the idea. So I first check each group to ascertain a specific feature then we compare notes decide what restart in whose favour who should be cautioned or sent off. The deal is at the end one player is laying prone on the ground so I point him out and say so a caution for simulation? Trying to get too much out of the situation? Then I roll him over to show a knife sticking out of his backside Usually this is unseen by most if NOT all the groups it is a fake knife of course. So you are the referee yet you all missed this a dead guy in the middle of the field how do you explain it? The answer THEY DID NOT SEE IT!

All you can do is try y to get at good angles to see into the mix rather than follow the backside of get blocked , trap play between your ARs or other official if possible, show effort, try to be where you need to be.

When it comes to a keeper going down in front of a hard charging attacker the attacker must grasp that if the keeper does get a grip on the ball they must attempt at least to pull out of the challenge as it is illegal to challenge IF the keeper has ball possession.

The run over or blast through type challenges when a keeper bends down to use the hands attackers cannot just go through or try to slide under a keeper with stiff legs especially .

I ask can you continue playing? Do you want or need medical attention? I have plenty of compassion for those injured but little patience for those who whine!

They might fall over a downed keeper even drive a knee accidently into a downed keeper given the keeper moves into get a ball off the attacker rather different than an attacker moves in to get the ball off the keeper kicking or sliding feet first to pop a ball free.

Perception and opinion are not easily swayed if they are different than your own, As referee you let the little stuff drain off the broad turtle cover but give a good snap if they try to test your virtue. It is not the worst reaction you could try by holding them to accountability, to act responsible!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mary,
As a referee, there will be times that you will miss things and if that happens and a player is actually injured or even just upset, there might well be cause to feel bad about it. As you say, one of the referee's most important responsibilities is to look after the safety of the players.

However there will also be times that players and/or coaches will claim that something happened when it really did not, either from a genuine but mistaken belief or in a deliberate attempt to put pressure on the referee in hopes of getting the ref to make more calls in their team's favour.

So I'm not sure I would get too upset about the player's or the coaches claims - unless you have a real reason to believe you missed something. All you can do is try to maintain the best position to see any potential clashes and if you have done that but still didn't see anything then you really shouldn't beat yourself up about it.

I should just mention as well though, that the law does not allow us to consider intent when it comes to physical contact fouls so it doesn't matter if it was an accident or not, only whether the action that caused the contact was careless (or reckless, or used excessive force). I would say that in many (if not most cases) unless the keeper themself has come charging out recklessly, when a forward runs into a goalkeeper it is very often careless at a minimum and if so, should not be excused simply because of it being accidental. There can of course also be a simple 'coming together' where neither player has acted carelessly (or recklessly etc) but I would usually err on the side of protecting the keeper as they are often in a more vulnerable position than the forward and as you say, protecting the players is of paramount importance.

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