I attended a U13 Class 3 boys game today and an attacker in a break-away with only the goalkeeper between him and the goal appeared to yell something like “HAH!” while pressing his attack. It was not clear if this yell was an attempt to distract the opponent. He beat the goal keeper and scored the goal but the referee blew his whistle, denied the goal and gave the attacker a yellow card for unsporting behavior. I can find no literature to support the finding of unsporting behavior in this circumstance. Also after the call there were many who thought it was the goalkeeper who had yelled this. Either way is there any support for this type of behavior being classified as unsporting behavior?

Answer (September 12, 2007):
Yes, yelling at an opponent is traditionally considered to be unsporting behavior. However, in this case there is no clear indication here that the yell was directed at the goalkeeper (or at the attacker).

In the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” you will find these citations:
– Commits an act which, in the opinion of the referee, shows a lack of respect for the game (e.g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behavior, or taunting). (Better known as “bringing the game into disrepute.”)
– Verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart

Either could include yelling. However, we also need to remember that under the Laws of the Game the attacking team is entitled to somewhat more lenience that the defending team in this regard. Unless the yelling is clearly intended to distract the opponent, such as a goalkeeper yelling at the player about to take the penalty kick, it is usually considered trifling.

With regard to yelling as a form of misconduct, the referee is obliged to be satisfied that the shouting was indeed intended to distract and in fact had the effect of distracting the opponent. The referee should look for some element of deception–i. e., performing the shout from out of sight or very close (to startle), deceiving an opponent as to the shouter’s identity (to obfuscate the status as an opponent), etc.

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