The game was getting rougher as the boys kept missing their scoring opportunities and their frustration began to escalate. I made a decision in my head that I was going to have to card the next foul as persistent infringement in an attempt to settle the game down.

There was a poor choice of a tackle on the white team about 7 yards before the penalty area when they were attacking the black goal. I went to blow for the whistle when the ball went straight to an attacking white player who was wide open and did a few dribbles and took a good shot on goal. The keeper did deflect it and it went out of touch for a corner kick.

In the melee of players and from deciding to follow the player with the ball, I lost sight of the black player who made the foul. I went to chat with my AR and he didn’t see who it was either since he was watching else where on the field. So I went to the black teams captain and asked who made the tackle. He said he didn’t know. I then explain to the captain that this isn’t for him specifically, but it was for persistent infringement and I wasn’t sure who made the tackle either.

Besides making a better effort to try to pick out what player it was (the obvious answer) next time, what should my actions have been if how I handled it wasn’t correct.

USSF answer (November 12, 2008):
We are not sure that your decision to punish just any foul by just any player as persistent infringement was the right decision to make, as it does not follow the traditional order of things. For there to be persistent infringement, a pattern of either of two things must occur: (1) one player fouls a number of opponents or (2) members of one team foul one opponent. These are destructive tactics aimed at destroying the rhythm of the game. Note: The actions described in (2) would be punished with a caution for unsporting behavior, not for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game.

If you feel that the game is getting out of hand and simply calling the fouls and giving stern talking-to’s to the players is not working, then just caution the next reckless foul as unsporting behavior. Don’t philosophize, act. And a cautionary note: If you don’t know and can’t get reliable information from other members of the officiating team, the only thing you can do is resolve not to make this mistake again. Although we have advised it in the past, asking captains, or players generally, to name a miscreant is not good policy.

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