A recent discussion created much debate about the duty and responsibilities a referee under law 5 had to exercise an opinion on law 12 send off offenses when playing 11 aside soccer. The question posed was the failure to show a red card for a send off offense that the referee actually admitted was in fact a send off offense but the referee refused to send off a player because the player was between 9 to 14 years of age a miss-application of law? If a referee was to stop play and award a dfk or pk for a spitting at another or a DOGSO incident where the player CLEARLY denies a goal via the illegal use of the hands but chose not to show a red card due to age is that an opinion on a fact of play or is it a miss application of law? I understand that as an opinion the referee can say there was no criteria for send off and as a fact of play not much can be done but can he say I saw the goal denied point 4 states the player is to be sent off but I do not care? Are not the send off offenses more along the lines of if that occurs then this happens not if it does happen I can pretend it didn’t because the player might get upset?

USSF answer (August 5, 2008):
Yes, the Federation suggests that the referee weigh the facts in every case of misconduct, so as to ensure that both the Letter and the Spirit of the Laws are satisfied. But if the referee chooses to excuse a player aged 9-14 for committing an infringement that should be punished by an immediate sending-off simply because he or she is so young, how will such players ever learn right from wrong and how to play soccer properly, not to mention to exist in society?Furthermore, who would want to be such a referee on the witness stand testifying as to why he let “Davie” stay in the game because he was a cute 11-year-old who had performed a studs-up tackle on “Mark,” was let go this time, and then broke “Freddy’s” leg two minutes later with the exact same maneuver. ¬†Whether the referee shows a red card or not, a violent player must be gotten off the field.

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