In a U-19 mens match, a player went in for a hard challenge, missed the ball and fouled his opponent. My immediate reaction was to caution him for the reckless foul but when the two players got up they started swinging at each other. The near AR and I quickly sorted things out, then I sent off (red carded) both of the players.

Now I wonder if I should have first shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior, then the red card for violent conduct. Since the player did not have a prior caution, that might seem confusing to the coach and spectators, but in some leagues disciplinary points are issued for every card.

What is the proper procedure in this case?

USSF answer (April 27, 2010):
The referee should IMMEDIATELY think preventive refereeing and get between the players BEFORE they start swinging. If that fails, the showing of the yellow card first may be confusing but is the correct action. The referee should always punish the initiator first in these situations. After the caution, then send off both players. If there is any confusion, explain it in the match report.

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