If an action is deemed a foul and except for that action a goal would likely have been scored, and whistle is blown and free kick or PK given, MUST the offending player be sent off if the 4D’s are satisfied?
Does score, time left, severity of foul, etc enter into the thought process?
U19 boys game, score is 6-0 late in second half… another breakaway by the team ahead, who happen to be far superior in skill level. The last defender is chasing the striker and trips him about 12 yards from mouth of goal. Only frozen Keeper to beat. Center blows whistle and awards PK. Looks to AR and pats right hip with questioning look. AR shakes head no. (FYI, he missed the PK)
In the Spirit of the Law this is the correct decision in my opinion. But the Letter of the Law seems very clear on this matter. It was denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity with a penal foul. no doubt about it.
It didn’t appear to be a tactical foul, it wasn’t reckless, but was careless. If the foul is given isn’t the red card almost mandatory? Is the only way to avoid the send off to not call it a foul?
Is there something in the Laws that allows for leniency? A send off and missing next game seemed too harsh in this situation. If the game were tied and hotly contested would that make a difference? (I probably would have sent offender off in this case). Does asking AR for opinion show indecision and little courage or good team work?
I’ve seen this breakaway situation several times and most of the Center Referees I’ve asked admit they didn’t even go through the thought process of a send off. Does anything in the Laws support that? Is it the standard, unwritten law to only send off for severe or tactical fouls, or game changing fouls, or worse when the coach yells for a red and reminds the CR to consider a send off? Thanks for your answer.

USSF answer (January 21, 2009):
The only possible response to the question posed in the first paragraph is yes. If a player, through carelessly fouling an opponent, has, in the words of Law 12, denied “an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick,” then the player must be sent off for that reason. There is no room for dithering or taking counsel or pushing the decision off onto another person.

We are concerned about what appears to be the central assumption of your questions — that the determination of misconduct is based on how the referee feels about the severity of the foul.  This is very dangerous thinking and can lead to exactly the sort of issues you describe, none of which are relevant to the discussion.  A foul is a foul and misconduct is misconduct.  These are two separate things which only occasionally intersect.  In the case of “OGSO,” the only place they intersect is that a decision about a send-off for OGSO requires first that a defender has committed an offense (not even necessarily a foul, and certainly not necessarily what you call a “penal foul” — we stopped using this term a long time ago) inside the penalty area which is punishable by a free kick or penalty kick.  Once that has been decided — and the requirements for committing a foul are well known — the referee need only turn to the entirely separate question of whether the “4 Ds” requirements for the misconduct were also present.  It is a serious mistake to mix these requirements, for example to apply any of the “4 Ds” to the issue of whether a foul should be called or to apply the requirements for a foul to the issue of whether a defender should be sent off for OGSO.  The only other issue that might arise here is if the foul itself warranted a red card, in which case the red card for SFP or VC takes precedence over the red card for OGSO.

All decisions of the nature you have described must be made “in the opinion of the referee.” However, the referee him- or herself must make this decision; it CANNOT be left to the opinion or discretion of the assistant referee. Referees must have the courage to make the correct decision immediately and then live with it. If they cannot do that, they might consider getting into officiating tiddlywinks.

Leave a Reply