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‘The right call” by Ref. Vangelis February 2006

February 1

Ref. Vangelis,

I see goalkeepers missing the ball on crosses but in its pursuit, making contact with the forward that has a shot at the ball - in general, headers. Although the GK does not touch the ball and, by making contact with the player disrupts his/her chance, these interventions are not called. Should they be?


Answer: Law 12 states that “A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player jumps at an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force”.

Last week we discussed a similar situation with goalkeeper intervention on break away. Here again the law addresses any player and the goalkeeper is not an exception to the rule. Therefore if the goalkeeper misses the ball and subsequently makes contact with the opponent, the referee must determine if the action was careless, reckless or excessive force was used and only then punish the player with a direct free kick.

Let’s keep in mind that the referee in not capable of reading a player’s mind, therefore, he must base his decision upon what he sees the player do and not upon what he thinks is in the player’s mind. Referees should not punish actions that are accidental or inadvertent.
In the case of such a situation as described in the scenario above, the referee must evaluate how the action was committed. This kind of action becomes an offense only if the referee decides that it was committed carelessly, recklessly or with excessive force.

Let me define what these terms mean:
“Careless” indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making his play.
“Reckless” means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.
“Involving excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed his opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.

Coach Gianni in a previous article mentioned the importance of players keeping their eyes open.
This is one of the things among many that the referee must look at to determine carelessness, recklessness or excessive force. A referee will have no doubt what the player is about to do when the player’s eyes are open and fixed on the target, whether that’s the ball or the opponent.

Ref. Vangelis

February 8

Ref. Vangelis,

How does the referee handle interference from spectators? Does he only have authority to deal with the players and team officials? Or can he take some appropriate action?

Coach Gianni

Answer: Please note the following statements in Law 5:

Law 5 states that “Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed”.
Law 5 also states that “The referee controls the match in cooperation with the assistant referees and where applicable, with the fourth official and acts on their advice regarding incidents which he has not seen”.

Law 5 also states that “The referee stops, suspends or terminates the match because of outside interference of any kind”.
And finally Law 5 states that “The referee provides the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match.

In addition to the parts of Law 5 quoted above decision 1 of the International Football Association Board states that “A referee (or when applicable, an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for a decision to abandon a match for whatever reason”.

As we can see from Law 5, the referee has full authority of the match he has been appointed to officiate. His task is to enforce the laws of the game and maintain control of the match. He may stop, suspend or terminate the game because of outside interference of any kind. This would include players, team officials, spectators etc. So, if the referee decides that the spectators are interfering with the match, he can stop, suspend or terminate the match and report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

Here is how it can be done:

First, the referee can stop the game and address the situation by talking to a responsible person such as a team official or a field marshal. If this does not work, the referee can suspend the match for a period of time and have the spectators removed from the premises. Finally, in certain extreme cases where stopping or suspending the game does not work, the referee can terminate the match. In all such cases the referee must follow up with a report so the appropriate competition organization can punish the team or teams involved.

Next week we will discuss whether or not it is possible that referees choose to ignore spectator interference.

Ref. Vangelis

February 15

Ref. Vangelis,

Spectators keep yelling harsh comments to the referee a few yards from the sidelines. So they are not in the field by destination. Is there something the referee can do or does he just have to ignore it?

Coach Gianni

Answer: Last week we discussed law 5 on how the referee can deal with spectator interference regardless of the location of the spectators or crowd.

The scenario above appears to be taking place at an open field without bleachers. This would mean that more likely the match is an amateur, youth or high school level game. In this particular venue, a referee more than likely is going to be able to hear what is happening amongst the spectators and take appropriate action, as we have previously discussed.

However, let’s keep in mind that when a game is played at a big stadium, a crowd of thousands of people is a considerable distance away. With a situation such as this, a referee cannot hear specific statements from the bleachers or wherever the spectators might be located because of the distance. From the field, all a referee can hear is a constant noise with no apparent source of direction. In addition, the referee is concentrating on the game itself so what is happening outside of field of play is not noticed.

The only time a referee would take notice from such a distance is if the disturbance was large enough to be noticed by those on the field of play and/or the comments made by spectators were audible to the referee. Of course in this case, the referee would take immediate action.

Therefore, if you see something happening in the stands, do not automatically assume that the referee is ignoring the situation. More than likely, he is completely unaware of it. It would then be the spectator’s duty to report the incident to the security personnel.
In most parts of the world, the security personnel or the police would have the offending spectators removed from the premises immediately, perhaps fining them, arresting them or even banning them from the stadium.

Ref. Vangelis

February 22

Ref. Vangelis,

Last week we discussed the application of Law 5 and what the referee can do when there is spectator interference. What can happen when a referee stops, suspends or terminates a match and reports the incident to the appropriate authorities?

Coach Gianni

Answer: Please note below examples of what can happen according to FIFA disciplinary codes pertaining to spectator misbehaviors. Please note especially the punishment when the incident includes profanity and/or ethnical or racial remarks.

Article 13 Sanctions Applicable to Legal Persons

a) Transfer ban; b) Playing a match without spectators; c) Playing a match on neutral territory; d) Ban on playing in a particular stadium; e) Annulment of the result of a match; f) Exclusion; g) Defeat by forfeit; h) Deduction of points; i) Demotion to the next lower division.

Article 24 P laying A Match Without Spectators

The obligation to play a match behind closed doors requires associations and clubs to have a certain match played without spectators.

Article 55 Racism

1. Anyone who publicly disparages, discriminates against or denigrates someone in a defamatory manner on account of race, color, language, religion or ethnic origin will be subject to match suspension for at least five matches at every level. The body will also pronounce a ban on his entering the confines of any stadiums and a fine of at least CHF 10,000. If the perpetrator is an official, the fine will be at least CHF 15,000.

2. Any spectator who commits such an infringement will be subject to a stadium ban for two years.

3. If spectators’ display banners bearing racist slogans at a match, the body will sanction the association or the club which these spectators support with a fine of at least CHF 30,000 and force it to play its next official international match without spectators.

Article 70 Liability for Spectator Conduct

1. The host association is liable for improper conduct among spectators, regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight, and, depending on the situation, may be fined. Further sanctions may be imposed in the case of serious disturbances.

2. The guest association is liable for improper conduct among its own group of supporters, regardless of the question of culpable conduct or culpable oversight, and, depending on the situation, may be fined. Supporters occupying the guest sector of a stadium are regarded as the guest association’s supporters, unless proven to the contrary.

3. Improper conduct includes violence towards persons or objects, letting off incendiary devices, throwing missiles, displaying racist or insulting slogans in any form, or uttering racist or insulting sounds, or invading the pitch.

4. An association’s liability as described in par. 1 and 2 also includes matches played on neutral ground, especially at final competitions.

Ref. Vangelis
Posted on 10 Mar 2006 by coachgianni
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