My question is a follow up to a situation that was presented to you on [August 31], 2009 entitled “Fool Me Once, etc.”

In this case, you stated that the referee would be wrong to caution player A for unsporting behavior after telling the ref, “if you drop the ball to me, I’ll kick it out of bounds,” and instead taking the ball and mounting an attack.

Assume that the situation is as follows: A ref, preparing to restart play with a drop ball, is standing next to players from both teams (player A and player B).

The ref clearly hears player A tell player B that if player B allows player A to win the drop ball, player A will either kick the ball out of bounds or kick the ball back to player B’s goalie/teammates. Player B agrees and after the restart, player A takes the ball and mounts an attack. Would this not be considered unsporting and worthy of a yellow card? Thank you.

USSF answer (January 11, 2010):
One of life’s great lessons is that you cannot trust everyone with whom you deal. The sooner we realize that, the better off we are For the benefit of other readers, let’s repeat the answer of 31 August 2009:

“Where the player kicks the ball is of no interest to the referee, whose sole job here is to get the ball back into play quickly and fairly to all participants. However, the fact that the referee was foolish enough to accept the word of a player that he would do thus or such is incomprehensible.

“There is no basis for the referee to caution the player for unsporting behavior. However, the referee should quietly go soak his or her head and learn to face facts: All players will con the referee if given half a chance. In addition, we would further add a penance or two to the referee’s lot. We find it difficult to justify a caution for fooling the referee, but not if the player fools an opponent illegally.”

The response in your situation would be the same as in the 31 August answer, with one addition beyond the substitution of “player” for “referee” in several places. And that addition is this: No player should trust an opponent, whose interest is in winning the game for his team, not playing in an ethically correct manner or giving the opposing team any advantage.

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