I was doing an over30 competitive match when the following occurred: White player is dribbling in the penalty area when he begins to lose his balance. Orange fullback sees the white player is beginning to fall and pretends to be tripped by the player and falls pinning the attacker under him. I blew the whistle and awarded a penalty because in my opinion the fullback simulated a fall in order to knock the attacker to the ground and fell on top so the attacker was completely taken out of the play. Of course the orange team was upset and felt I penalized their defender for falling. Could I call this a trip because the action of the fullback caused the attacker to go to ground? Unfair challenge? Or simulation (misconduct IFK)? I don’t know what to call it but it certainly looked like a foul to me.

Your thoughts please

USSF answer (September 24, 2009):
We seem to have at least two infringements here and they must be dealt with in the order in which they occurred. We also need to remember that the referee must base the restart on the infringement that occurred first, rather than the more serious, unless the infringements occur simultaneously, which was not the case described here.

If we accept your description, this is the order in which the infringements occurred:
Infringement the first: The defender simulates a fall.
Infringement the second: The defender then trips the attacker.
Infringement the third: The defender then holds the attacker down.

The correct action here would be to call the simulation and caution the defender for unsporting behavior, for which the restart is an indirect free kick from the spot of the infringement. While the defender did indeed trip the attacker and then hold him down, these acts occurred after the simulation and cannot be punished — unless, of course, you applied the advantage for the simulation and then called the second infringement, the tripping. This would allow you to caution the defender for the simulation and also award a penalty kick for the tripping in the penalty area.

Based on the description, the referee could take either path, depending on what he felt the game “needed” under the circumstances (temperature of the match, behavior of the players, etc.). In addition, there is a third option — caution for the simulation, indirect free kick or penalty kick restart based on which offense is the basis for the stoppage, but then a second caution for the subsequent misconduct of holding the opponent down — which results in a dismissal (red card) for the second yellow.

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