Saturday, October 22, 2011

How I Made The Call (from NRAH)

From yesterday, the purveyor of Not Running a Hospital, Paul Levy, posed a soccer scenario from a Columbus Day Tournament for us to make a call.

His description in what he his can be found here at How I made the call.

Let me begin the analysis by saying that I agree with his decision as described. I also offer some thoughts as to some of the comments made, and what the LOTG actually says.

As you can imagine, we find ourselves in Law 12 as you may expect for "Fouls and Misconduct."

First question: Is it even a foul?
In a few of the responses to the question on NRAH, I saw the word "intent." To which I reply, Who cares?! Intent is a relic of the LOTG and was replaced with "careless, reckless, or using excessive force", and cuts a much wider path that referees must act on.

Having intent to commit a foul could reasonably be construed as either, careless, reckless, or excessive force. Note however, what if a player was uncoordinated when he made contact with the GK? Careless? Reckless? What if the player made the challenge when they could not reasonably expect to make a fair play at the ball? Careless? Reckless?

Maybe, and as such may be a foul regardless of intent.

Next Question: What type of offense are we talking about though? Jump? Charge? Push? Strike? Holds? Impedes? Does it matter?
My answer here is, it matters only to the degree between determining the type of kick that would need to be taken. This lies in the difference between dangerous play, impedes an opponent, and basically everything else. Consider this rule of thumb ... If there is contact between opponents, it is a direct kick.

Think about our situation, we had a GK and an opponent attacker collide, this would have to be a DFK if a foul was called. Call it a jump, charge, strike ... who cares ... it is a DFK. This is also one of the reasons why when asked, "What is the call?", I reply "A direct kick", "An indirect kick." To do otherwise invites, "... it was a push, not a hold ...", which in how the LOTG treat the punishment are identical. Don't get drawn into a moot debate.

To take this a bit further, what if a "high kick" (i.e. a dangerous play) makes contact to the opponent? You guessed it ... a DFK for a kick. Think contact == DFK.

Last Question: Does the position of the GK matter?
Another comment from NRAH on the topic related to the fact that the GK can not be challenged "in his box" (i.e. the penalty area). This folks, is simply not true.

The penalty area marks where the GK has particular rights relative to handling the ball. Specifically where they may play the ball with their hands. There are no other privileges that the LOTG affords a GK.

No you may immediately say "But the GK is so vulnerable, they must be protected." To which I strongly agree and go further to say if a referee does not protect a GK, chaos will ensue.

While these two statements seem incongruous, my rationale lies in what the LOTG says regarding careless, reckless and excessive force.

GK's by their very nature have to take risks unique to other players in the field. While not afforded special protection, the vulnerability they necessarily put themselves through widens what an opponent may do that is careless, reckless, or excessive in nature.

Consider a GK in our scenario who is stretched out reaching for the ball in the air unlike any other player in that penalty area can do. As such they are vulnerable to a challenge from an opponent in a unique way, and as a result the "sphere" of what is reckless, careless, or excessive widens appropriately. It is NOT because the player is a GK in their penalty area, it IS a result of the way a GK is required to play.

Think about this, a GK that within their own penalty area plays the ball with their feet, and plays like any other field player ... is it reasonable to think that GK can not be challenged due to their location inside the field? Certainly not!

So at the end of the day, I agree with the decision made to allow the play, and allow the goal. My additional analysis here is intended to do nothing more than to relate just how difficult such a decision is when made correctly ... as IMHO Paul did in the scenario provided.

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