(Originally published on 7/21/17, “Operation Restore”)
Sue, a U-12 and under parent, asks:
Is it an offence for a player to call out “mine” to let his teammates know he is intending to play the ball?
Maybe. It depends on the circumstances as seen at the specific moment by the Referee. Here are some issues or concerns that the Referee would probably consider before deciding what (if anything) to do about it.
- Was the shout done in such a way as to startle, confuse, or redirect the attention of a nearby opponent who might also be “intending to play the ball”?
- Did the shout actually result in startling, confusing, or directing the attention of an opponent?
- Was the shout performed in close proximity to the opposing goalkeeper who was also in a position to receive the ball?
- Had there been a history during the game up to this point of shouting such claims?
- Was the shouter easily identifiable at the time of the incident as in fact an opponent (i.e., not coming from someone directly in view rather than behind or out of the peripheral vision of a player hearing the shout) or could the hearer believe that the shout came from a teammate?
All these factors come together to form an opinion in the Referee’s mind as to whether the shout of “Mine” was or was not either intended to distract generally or to confuse the identity of the shouter such that a player might be deceived and allow the ball to be left to someone the hearer thought was a teammate. It doesn’t really matter what the shouter intended, which may have been entirely innocent, but what happened as a result — much the same as what happens with other offenses, such as fouls, particularly with younger player. One of the most common aphorisms among Referees is that the older the players the less likely anything that happens is by accident.
If the Referee decides that the shout was not permissable, it becomes a misconduct (caution for unsporting behavior) but the Referee might also decide that, while the intent to deceive was there, it might not be worth a caution if, for example, it was unsuccessful (i.e., the misconduct was trifling). Alternately, the Referee might decide that it was misconduct, it deserves a caution, but play ought not to be stopped because “advantage” should be applied (the practical consequence of which is to hold the caution until the next stoppage and then show the offender the card).