Here are two scenarios for you to consider as I drive to the middle of nowhere for a game today.
Women’s college soccer game where most players are on scholarship.
Stripes are up 3-1 in the 73rd minute against Green. The foul count is 16 against Green, 6 against Stripes and the Green has two cautions. Stripes have not entered the book.
The season is getting close to the end, and Stripes is in good position for a play-off berth while Green is all but eliminated (they play a national top 10 team tonight where anything other than a win eliminates Green from contention.)
The Stripes holding midfielder is attempting to work her way up the center alley of the field. Green midfielder has grabbed a good chunk of her shirt and is pulling hard. The referee has not called a foul yet as he is waiting for advantage as Stripes has been checking back central short runners in conjunction with long wing runs all game long. If the Stripes midfielder can get a good step she has three good options for distribution and if she breaks the grip of the holding defending, she has a ten yard bubble of clear space to either continue dribble penetration or distribute out.
She loses the ball and the referee whistles the play dead and points back 8 to 10 yards for where the foul started. As the whistle is still echoing, the Stripes player swings at the ball. She cracks a second Green defender high, hard, and late on the upper shin. The second Green defender was cutting across the field from left to right to chase the now loose ball.
The Green defender goes down hard. The referee checks on the cracked Green defender, and then gives a caution to Stripes for unsporting behavior. The restart is a direct free kick for Stripes for the original holding foul.
What do you think?
College mens’ D-3 game between two teams with a history of relatively clean play. Blue is in line for a play-off spot.
#17 Blue is acting odd on the field in the first ten minutes of the game. He is going in late but soft, he is being a minor league dick to the referee, and he tried to bear hug an attacker as the attacker was transitioning from the defensive third to the middle third of the field. None of these interactions were serious. They made no sense.
The referee had a brief word with the Blue captain, and the captain said the following:
“We have three games left and he has four cautions. “
The NCAA suspends soccer players for one game when they accumulate five cautions. Once the suspension is served, the card count is dropped back to zero.
On the next odd play by #17, the referee cautions him. The play/called foul itself was super soft and in most college games it would not be considered a foul much less a card. The ref wrote it up as persistant infringement. As soon as the card came out, 17 smiled and said “I’ll start playing now…”
The game went swimmingly from there.
What do you think about this?
I was the referee in the first scenario. I really don’t like that yellow card as it was a preventable yellow card.
Yes, Stripes hit Green high, hard and late. That combination is a card and it is merely a question of how high, how hard and how late as to what color card is needed. Two out of those three criteria is usually enough for at least a yellow, while one gives a lot more wiggle room to go from legal to trifling to simple foul to plastic.
I needed a card because that foul was hard and Green was feeling that they were getting the short end of the stick on most calls. I wanted to avoid retaliation so a yellow for a legit hard misconduct would enforce the rules, provide justice and promote player safety.
On technical grounds, the card is justified but it is a shitty card to give.
I was not aware of the green defender who got cracked as my focus was split between the moving foul situation and the offensive options. I totally missed seeing the defender rotating in. If I had seen the defender rotating in, I should have killed the play a couple of yards earlier as the potential advantage was being taken away by the second defender.
If I had blown the whistle for the foul two steps earlier, there is no lost ball so no swing which leads to no card, no accumulation concern, and Green’s leg feeling a lot better. Getting the whistle one step earlier might not stop the swing, but Stripes would have been hitting air instead of bone.
As for scenario two, I heard about that from a colleague as we were driving to Saint Tommy’s of Middle of Nowhere. I am conflicted on it as #17 was bringing the game into disrepute and doing so intentionally. The card cleaned the game up and allowed for a fair display of skill and ability for the next eighty two minutes. However the referee was implicitly rewarding #17 for being a smart-ass rules lawyer. We should not reward smart ass rules lawyering on the field. However, given the accumulation sit-out and the incentive structure of teams, the incentive is for smart ass rules lawyering. I could see myself give that card for player safety reasons as I don’t want #17 esclating contact levels until he levels an opponent in an attempt to draw a caution.