Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sir ... drop the sandwich

So there I was minding my own business the other day at a match when I hear, "Sir, you can't eat here. Drop the sandwich."

I actually thought it was a joke at first. After a second though it was clear that the sandwich police were in no laughing mood as I was told again in an increasingly irritated and increasing in volume tone that I can't eat on the "synthetics" (i.e. the turf fields).

Resisting my generally smart remark self, understanding I was there in an official capacity, I complied, despite the really rude and remedial tone the field marshal took with me as he further lectured me to toss my chips and 7-Up as well. There is no justice, is there.

During the course of the match I proceeded to the other side of the "synthetic" field and behold, what did I see but kids doing what kids do in the hot sun ... eating ice cream!! It was great, they were having a blast watching the match and eating their treat ... and getting it all over the field. Ah, sweet sticky justice was mine.

Honestly I had to laugh out loud as here was a great example of one part of the field where something was enforced, and another where anything goes. Now for anyone who shares the view of the sandwich police, I understand why there is no eating on the fields, and I am familar with the principle of Ignorantia juris non excusat so I am not condoning my sandwich offence, or the marshals churlish behavior, just using it to make a point about refereeing.

That point being a referee has to be consistent across the whole field, throughout the whole match. If certain offences are not called in a particular part of the field, the players will (a) take advantage of that until it happens, and (b) lose respect for the referee as they are allowing things for some and not for others.

Have you ever seen a referee call a hand ball? Sure, lots of times right?

Now take that same situation and move it inside the defenders penalty area. Have you seen the referee make THAT call? Yes ... but less frequently I would opine.


Do the laws of physics change in that 792 square yard space? Why are fouls harder to come by?

I'm not really sure. Maybe a referee does not want to change the outcome of a match by making a call in there understanding what the consequences might be. I can appreciate that. As I stated before, it can take courage to make a match altering decision, like send a player off, or give a PK.

You have to do it though. You will lose the respect from the players if you don't give that foul, or move it outside the box if it was close. Let me give you a hint here, if its on the line of the penalty area, it is a PK. Take a look at Law 1, page 6, for the answer.

To fail to apply the law consistently across the whole field, will lead to issues with players as they will get frustrated and show it in actions or words. They are the ones who need to believe in your decisions as they are the ones who will decide how the match is going to go that day.

Make the tough call if you need to, regardless of where they are on the field. While it may go the wrong way for some players, if it is the right decision, the players will respect you for it.

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