I have a couple of questions about the following situation, which occurred at a U16 match.

Two opponents at midfield near the benches are mouthing off to each other, and some shoving is going on. A substitute comes off the bench onto the field, but nothing comes of it (everything settles down pretty quickly). I don’t know whether it is a factor or not, but the shoving/shouting happened behind the referee’s back while the ball was out of play, but once the assistant referee got the referee’s attention, the referee handled the situation and cautioned the two players and the substitute. From what I’ve been told, this was an isolated incident, and the referee had the match under control both before and after the incident occurred.

After the match, the assessor told the referee that ‘the third man in’ should have been sent off, even though he made no contact with anyone.

My questions to you:

1. Do you know where this mentality (third-man-in gets-a-red) came from?
2. What sort of feedback would you give to this assessor?

USSF answer (August 28, 2009):
The assessor seems to be misreading and misquoting a USSF directive on “Game Disrepute and Mass Confrontation.” The actual directive states:

1. Third Man In
– If a third man joins the game disrepute and causes it to escalate to mass confrontation, this player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior.
– The third man in may be sent-off for violent conduct if his actions so warrant

There is certainly no suggestion in the directive that a third person to join any incident MUST be sent off, particularly if he or she has not done anything more than enter the field.

Our feedback to the assessor would be that he/she should thoroughly review the directives before making pronouncements on matters of this nature.

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