The following occurred in a U15 elite boys match.
3 minutes into a match two players challenged for a ball on the touchline 3 yards up from where I was the AR. The player in white, slid in and was the last to touch the ball (in my opinion) before it went out of touch. I signaled a throw in for red. The white player who last touched the ball was on the ground about 2-3 yards from me.
He stood up and stepped forward a little. Clearly invading my personal body space his face was now about 10 inches from mine and he was about as tall as me. He looked me right in the eye in a clear intimidating fashion. I should have told him to immediately back off, but I was just shocked a player would do this 3 minutes into a game. He stood there 3-4 seconds, turned away and said, “Why don’t you watch the f***ing game”.
This was clearly a straight red card for vulgar language and I called the center over and told him what happened and he issued a yellow card.
My question is specifically this. If the player had done nothing more than standing up and stepping forward in an act of intimidation as I described, should this be a red card?
USSF answer (April 19, 2010):
Yes — with some hesitation. We would really like to have been there to see the player’s manner — to see, for example, whether the player could argue that the act of getting up naturally put him in such close proximity to the AR, to see whether, having gotten up, the player moved closer, etc. A red card is a fairly stiff penalty for intimidation via occupying personal space with no touching, no language, etc., but only the referee or AR on the game would know which was most appropriate for this particular moment of truth. An immediate clear and concise verbal report to the referee would be most beneficial. In this case the referee chose the caution, an action he will have to live with.