Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 32009

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/8/2017

RE: Local competition Under 19

Mike of Pemberton , Western Australia Australia asks...

Tonight I gave a yellow card followed by a red card for verbal abuse against my AR then myself getting verbally abused . My AR raised his flag signaling off side . As I didnt have clear sight of the infringement I honoured my ARs decision and it caused an uproar .10 minutes prior I called the captains in because the back chatting was getting out of control. Did I do the right thing or was I too harsh. Should I have just given another warning and then a yellow. Im only asking this because the club wants to contest the red card . I suppose Im also looking for affirmation on my decision. Many thanks for reading this . Mike

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
In Season 1997-1998, the wording of Law 12 was changed. The sending-off offence of foul and abusive language was replaced by: *Using Offensive, Insulting or Abusive language.* This change meant that the individual Referee on the day, can decide what is offensive or insulting. Because of human nature, every individual referee has his own tolerance level as far as language is concerned.
FIFA gave the following as the reason for this change: A player may now be sent off if, in the opinion of the referee, he is guilty of using language or gestures, which are offensive or insulting or abusive. The referee must take into account the severity of the offence. He continues to have the authority to decide whether, in his opinion, a players unacceptable language or gestures are to be deemed a sending off offence

So decisions are made in the game that players agree with / do not agree with. On matters of opinion probably 50% will agree while the other 50% will disagree.
What is not acceptable under the Laws is to dissent such decisions which can and should result in a caution. That dissent can be words or gestures such as verbals, throwing down a ball, hand clapping etc. When the dissent escalates to offensive, insulting and abusive language and/or gestures then that is a sending off offence and a red card.
Now offensive insulting and abusive is as already stated a matter of personal opinion. I can interpret something as said as dissent whereas another referee can view it as offensive and insulting and vice versa. The context, manner, tone, loudness etc all have a bearing. A player could say something quietly that might be considered a caution yet another player could run 30 yards, shouting the same with aggressive gesturing and it could be a red card.
So hey do not beat yourself up that a club is threatening to appeal a red card. It happens all the time with clubs complaining about tackles should have bern a red card others that a red card should be a yellow. A question was asked if the referee through the action and they did not like the answer. If the sending off report is well written with the words, gestures etc all covered the club is wasting its time. Instead it should be apologising for the unacceptable irresponsible behaviour of its player/s who berated match officials to the point of getting sent off. If the player was already on a caution then absolutely no excuse for getting sent off. A recent question showed a player commit a minor foul which was deemed USB and a few minutes later the same player stopped a free kick from being taken for which he got a 2nd yellow and a red card. A soft red card yet so be it
So for me without the words or exact context being expressed here it reads to me that you tried to deal with the out of control dissent and it was not headed. You do not need affirmation in that the player took no further part in that game which is your decision 100%. Your job is done once you put the facts into the sending off report. It is up to the League to deal with the decision as to what further sanction that will be taken.
Well done for that and perhaps the next day the team will show more respect.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mike,
I am trying to follow the chain of events so bear with me!
Are you saying the game was already quite chatty given ten minutes prior to this offside decision you already had a captain to captain lets stop this talk?

The AR flagged offside. He was in the best position you supported his decision relating to this technical infraction
One team was not happy so they begin a verbal assault on the AR whom you tried to protect then this assault turned in on you?

Just WHO received the first caution?
You did not give a card you showed the yellow to?? for dissent???
Then the dissent escalated into abuse thus a direct red card was shown? To who ??

It is not a mistake to hold those who act irresponsibly to be held accountable.
As referees and as neutral observers we do get that the emotional needs and competitive juices of players and teams redirect flak at us which we mostly weather off our shiny turtle armour of useless griping and ignore.

I often wonder at the audacity of big mouthed players, coaches, spectators adults & parents who seem to think actions for which another might get punched in the nose for suddenly become a right to heap on a referee trying to manage their game and are bewildered when the referee has had enough and the yellow cards start appearing in an effort to quell the tide of dissent. Yet the warning goes unheeded so we now reach into the back pocket for the red so a disagreement becomes an abusive fight which they will lose given they are sent away. No shame is displayed just excuses at how the big bad referee managed to snatch victory away from them.

I can not comment on your procedures or how you interacted but thank you for being brave enough to hold those irresponsible accountable, to support your fellow official and to rethink the experience in an effort to understand or get better. Your Match your Decision your Reputation if you referee with integrity the mechanics will work themselves out eventually. Players need to learn there are consequence for acting irresponsibly. Hopefully you have a proactive league that support the disciplinary aspect of fair play with more than lip service .

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mike,
For language or gestures that are abusive, a referee is entitled to issue a straight red card and the referee is the sole judge of what is or is not abusive (or insulting or offensive). So without actually being there, seeing and hearing what was said and done, it's difficult to directly affirm your decisions but it sounds as if you might have even been a little lenient if you only started off with a yellow card for verbal abuse. Depending on what exactly was said and in what manner, another referee might have gone for a straight red. If the behaviour actually amounted to dissent rather than abuse, then a yellow card would be appropriate and continued dissent would lead to a second yellow and consequent red. Once again only you as the referee can judge what is dissent and what is abuse.

Just be sure that in your report, you fully and accurately describe all the words and actions that led you to your decisions. Assuming that you have not totally over-reacted to something minor (and it doesn't sound like it) any appeal by the club should fail.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32009
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.