Monday, June 14, 2010

1 + 1 == 10

It can take great courage from a referee to send a player off. It can take even greater courage from a referee to give a player a second caution which results in a send off.

On 13-JUN in the ALG v SVN (report) and SRB v GHA (report) match we saw send offs for second cautions. I am not here to critique the decisions ... the referees are there, I am not. To get the larger refereeing community thinking however, I offer the following.

Lets recall first where this comes from in the LOTG. See page 35 in Law 12 which states that:
"A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences: ...
... receiving a second caution in the same match."

So, reflecting on the recent post about cautions, and my comment about getting something back in return, lets extend the thinking in this context as to why this is critical.

Look at the results from the two matches, the cautions, and second cautions. Both second cautions were for "run of the mill" cautionable stuff, not anything "over the top" (theatrically speaking). This makes me reflect on why and how the initial caution was given to each player, and while I will not go into great detail here about it, there is a relevant general point.

Make sure a player "earns" their cautions. In the two cases here, both of the first cautions were for fouls, both the second cautions were for handling the ball inside the penalty area. Once by an attacking player, once by a defending player.

These were earned cautions in all (4) cases. Imagine if one of the cautions was trivial or "ticky-tack" in nature. The level of dissent, which was none in this case, would have been much more pronounced.

Think about a local match when a player is having a bad match and says something in frustration ... maybe even something that could be worth a caution. How about kicks the ball away in frustration. Should it be a caution? Well ... maybe ...

Let's say you book them, and later in the match, they do something really dumb that mandates a caution, like not retiring the distance on a free kick ... red card? The LOTG say yes, but does that do the player, the game, or you as referee any justice? Again my answer is maybe ...

If a player has earned the cautions, no matter how dumb they may have acted, you are required by the LOTG to act. If a player puts themselves in that position, they have earned what was coming to them. Look at GHEZZAL today for ALG. A shirt pull to bring a player down right when he came in as a substitute, and later trying to control a ball with his arm when attacking in the penalty area. No doubt, no question, one, two, done.

There are times when it will not be so easy and the player does a couple of things that mandate a caution. Those are the breaks. As a referee you can not excuse behavior that mandates a caution in the LOTG, but you should work with players to let them know when they are treading on thin ice regarding discretionary ones.

Send off those players who have earned the shame of going home early. Do so however based in their own behavior. Don't be forced into sending a player off by not thinking through what each misconduct really means to the game.


  1. I remember you saying the very words to me many years. You were right then and right now.

    Motivated referees will learn alot from you.

  2. Anon-
    My deepest personal thanks and regards. I can only hope to continue to share my experiences with others to let the game take them where they want to go.