Chicago Fire v Chivas 10-23
In the 70th minute Terry Vaughn leaned towards a Fire player and asked him to play the ball out – to attend to a downed Patrick Nyarko. The Fire player had not noticed his teammate was down.
During the stoppage Vaughn issued a yellow card to Braun for unsporting behavior.

Couple questions/comments: the convention of asking player to stop play (by knocking the ball into touch) is a quirk of our game – last night’s example seemed to demonstrate the quirkier side. I cannot find the reference from last year but I thought the FA, prior to the beginning of the 2008-2009 season, had asked referees to try to prevent players from knocking the ball out of play and for referees to control the stoppages themselves. I recall thinking, “We’ll see how this goes.” I really can’t say I’ve seen this tradition go away based on EPL games I’ve watched. And I’m not suggesting the US follow suit but I do feel this tradition is outdated. Law 5 gives latitude to CR to judge whether a player’s injury is such that play should be stopped or not. It’s when a referee actually tells a player to play the ball out (an assumption on my part, only having video evidence to make this assertion) that I wonder whether tradition should be maintained at the expense of the referee making a decision, on their own using their common sense.

The card during the stoppage is what really concerns me. Were the two events connected or just a coincidence? Was Braun’s card a separate matter from Nyarko’s injury? If they were related, why would Vaughn need to ask a player to stop play if he thought a foul occurred that was worthy of a caution? I didn’t see Vaughn consult with his AR so I’m left to guessing what transpired.

I’d like to know that actual sequence of events if that’s possible.

USSF answer (October 27, 2009):

Terry Vaughn saw the incident a bit differently from you. He states:

“In this situation I did not tell the Fire player to kick the ball out. I saw the Chicago player get fouled in a reckless manner, but the ball popped out to one of his teammates who had numbers up going the other way. If he turns with it goes the other way. I had signaled advantage to the player and told him I was coming back to deal with the Chivas player. He decided on his own to play the ball out of play, so his teammate could get treatment and that is when the caution was given for the reckless foul. Part of the decision in allowing play to continue is that the player did not have a serous injury like a broken bone or injury to the head or neck. That is what took place in this situation.”

The information you recall regarding kicking the ball out of play appeared in both the 2008 and 2009 USSF memoranda on the changes in the Laws of the Game:


Dealing with injured players

In view of the differing practices applied in various competitions around the world by the team in possession when the ball remains in play after a player has been injured and the confusion that this can cause, the IFAB wishes to reiterate that Law 5 states that the referee has the power to stop the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured, but he may allow play to continue if the player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured.

Furthermore, the IFAB calls for the football family to unite in denouncing simulation and working to eradicate this scourge from the game in order to assist the referee’s identification of serious injuries and, more generally, to uphold the fundamental principles of fair play and preserve the integrity of the game.

USSF Advice to Referees: The above guidelines clearly support the view of the International F.A. Board that the referee’s responsibility to distinguish between serious and slight injuries (taking into account the age, skill, and competitive level of the players) is hampered both by players simulating injuries and by the practice of some teams at some times to stop play on their own initiative by kicking the ball off the field. The Board has strongly emphasized the need for all elements of the soccer community to deal firmly with simulation, but the Board is also suggesting (without, it must be noted, changing any requirement of the Law) that the teams should leave the decision to stop play to the referee instead of exercising it themselves. Although referees should not discourage acts of sportsmanship in situations where a team has taken it upon themselves to stop play and the injury was truly serious, the above instructions also suggest that everyone should now see referees moving more quickly to evaluate injuries and to establish clearly whether play should or should not be stopped so that teams will be less likely to feel a need to take this decision upon themselves.


Reminder to referees

Referees are reminded that Law 5 states that the referee must stop the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured.

USSF Advice to Referees: This statement is intended to reinforce a guideline issued earlier by both the International Board and USSF that the practice of a team kicking the ball off the field to stop play when there is an apparent injury on the field detracts from the responsibility of the referee under Law 5 to assess the injury and to stop play only if, in the opinion of the referee, the injury is serious. Referees are therefore advised to be seen quickly and publicly considering the status of any player seeming to be injured and clearly deciding whether or not the situation merits a stoppage of play. The referee must control this decision as much as possible.

At exactly 69:00, Braun fouls Nyarko which leads to the injury. The referee clearly uses his arms to signal advantage and then follows it up with a confirmation of the player committing the foul. The “confirmation” ensures the referee does not forget the player who commits the misconduct because, as we know, it could take a long time for the next stoppage in play to occur and this “confirmation” helps cement the player’s number in the referee’s mind.

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