Understanding that “you would have to be there,” as referee I was somewhat surprised on a particular DOGSO. U-19 girls, D-4.

The attacker was on a breakaway with the defender stride for stride next to her… the Center Ref was following the play by about 10 yards with no one between the Ref and the play. There were no other defenders in the play or between the play and the goal.

As the two continued stride for stride, with the defender making some moves to retreive the ball, about 5 yards outside of the penalty arc, both girls fell to the ground and the ball rolled forward into the penalty area where the goalie was standing.

The Ref whistled a foul, set the ball for the direct kick but as the girls began to set their wall, AR-1 called the CR to the line. The CR returned to the field, called over the defender and ejected her for the obvious goal scoring opportunity.

My issue was two-fold. One, the distance seemed too far particulary given that both girls were side by side, stride for stride and working toward the ball. At 20+ yards to the goal, if for a U-19 it seems far to deserve an injection. Second, it would seem that the Center Ref was in the best position to make the call and had already set the ball for the direct kick prior to the AR calling him to the side.

Was the ejection appropriate, given the facts above? As a ref, I saw two girls going for the ball and agreed with the direct kick assuming that there was contact between the defender and the attacker – versus the ball.

USSF answer (October 20, 2009):
Unless there is something you have not revealed to us, we see no reason for any call here, much less a sending-off for denying the opponent a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity. Soccer is a contact sport. Unless the contact is illegal, there is no infringement of the Law.

Furthermore, aside from the issue of whether there was even a foul, we have no idea what the AR said to the referee and could only speculate as to how this added information may have affected the referee’s decisions. Finally, you have provided no information as to any of the other “D” elements in OGSO (distance to ball, direction of play) but it is clear that the “number of defenders” element was present and the “distance to the goal” element is the one you are arguing about. “Distance to goal” is a judgment of the referee and we cannot second guess the decision (short of the play perhaps being near the opposing team’s goal line!).

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