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Question Number: 32066

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/29/2017

RE: Amateur Adult

George of Parangarecutirimicuaro, CA Sacratomato asks...

In a tough match, during a period of time where the ball is being blasted into the air back and forth, red player, with no players in front of him, positions himself to blast the ball upfield. The ball bounces in front of him about shoulder height. As the ball begins to drop, he initiates his kick. Out of nowhere, a white defender who was initially about five yards behind the red player, tries to sneak in front of red player and tries to head the ball for a pass to himself. White player basically sticks his face in there at the same time red player is making contact. Foot, face and ball come together at the same time. Next thing you know, white player is on the ground screeching and squirming while holding his bleeding face. What would be the appropriate call?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
Not an easy one as the decision rests on whether the White player is guilty of playing in a dangerous manner by putting his head in a dangerously low position or whether the Red player was careless perhaps reckless in a high boot kick. In the opinion of the referee as to whether a header was possible and likely in the normal playing of the ball. Spatial awareness has to be a factor as the players know that there are other players in the mix. Sure if there was not that awareness a player might chose to control the ball or let it drop to pass it away.
It reminds me of the imfamous John Terry kick in the head by Abu Diaby of Arsenal
Referee Webb went with a goal kick and Blue Chelsea John Terry took no further part as he was hospitalised.
FWIW I am of the opinion it should have been a penalty kick and certainly a caution for reckless play. I fully believe the player did not know that Terry was going to play the ball in the manner he did yet it was still a reckless play to raises the foot that high when the ball can be headed by players close to it. It could though easily have been a red card for serious foul play. In defence of Referee Webb perhaps he was of the view that John Terry lowered his head causing the incident. In real time within a split second that question could arise as Terry appeared to be going downwards? Was his view obscured at the moment of contact by three players and he was unsure of the exact nature, timing and height of the contact. Interestingly there seemed like little appeals for a penalty although the shock of the incident took over? When life threatening injures are in the mix the restart is pretty insignificant.
In your scenario I would most likely go with a foul against the Red player and a caution for being reckless. The reason is that you mention a chest high ball and dropping. That suggests somewhat of a high boot and kicking a player in the head is at least reckless above waist height even if its accidental. The fact that it is tough match also has me suggesting a foul and a caution as that is what is expected and perhaps required to maintain match control. I do not believe no action is tenable unless it is clear that the attackers actions were reckless by diving so low to head a ball that is always runs a very high of getting kicked almost foolhardy.
Maybe put it another way. Let us say that the ball was on the ground and the defender was about to play the ball when the attacker nipped in and played the ball away. Defender then kicks the attacker in that action. What would the call be? Certainly a foul.
In the recent Rangers v Aberdeen game the referee awarded a penalty for an incident where a high bouncing ball was going to be played by an Aberdeen player and at the last moment a Ranger player arrived to play the ball to be clattered in the body by the Aberdeen player. Same principle and the outcome of a penalty was correct. No card was issued which in my opinion was also correct. Players have to adjust for change in play and also not be careless or reckless in play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George,
the idea that any reaction or action undertaken is uncontrolled be it a or a careless act, a reckless action or excessive action is judged by the referee as an opinion on a single fact of play there will be those moments when the foot rises beyond the waist into the chest or head height and MOST always there will be a HINT of desperation if a clearance or a stretch of the imagination if an attack but most likely an element of careless , reckless or even excessive will be attached. I too watched the John Terry incident and while Mr. Terry maybe an unlikable sod that was in my opinion a PK not a goal kick -

I am sympathetic if the player threw himself into a risky situation there could be fault laid to bending down but a wildly swinging foot up high into the face or chest when we can use our chest or head to nod the ball down versus launch it into orbit. Hard to fault 6 ft 6 Pete Crouch taking a normal swing with those walking sticks could easily be up high into the face of a smaller player 5 foot 2 Daniel Villalva in normal play. Of course PIADM cannot apply as there IS contact but one could drop ball an go with the injury as an unfortunate accident. The key point as CR?
SELL the decision with NO hesitation!
Medic drop ball
Medic DFK/pk card

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