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Is there such a thing as a “good” card per Law 12? By Dr. Brent Stephens, D.M.
Synopsis 2 The use of the yellow and red cards in soccer to indicate caution or send-off were intended as a visual indication to watchers of the referees decision. Instead of this the card has become a tool or in some cases, a weapon. WOMD - A weapon of mass distribution. Disclaimer This material does not address behavior that may be found at professional or international level where the fastest red card is within three seconds of the start of the game (David Pratt, December 30, 2008). new-record-for-fastest-red-card.html © 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Purpose The important point is understanding the referee’s purpose – facilitating a game of soccer ensuring: Protection of the players That the players decide the outcome and Finding the “balance” where both teams accept the fouls called and not called 3© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Control The referee is afforded five levels of control (attributed to Eddie Earson, former Director of Officials of the North American League as quoted in Robert Evans and Edward Bellions  For the Good of the Game). Voice Whistle Yellow card caution Red card sendoff Game abandonment 4© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
The goal The goal is to control the game and protect the safety of the players – using the tools above If an emphatic and dramatic verbal addressing of the incident keeps the game under control – why risk escalating to the level of a yellow card? 5© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
6 History and origin of cards British football referee Ken Aston was appointed to the FIFA Referees' Committee and was responsible for all referees at the 1966 FIFA World Cup. In the quarterfinals, England met Argentina at Wembley Stadium. After the match, newspaper reports indicated that referee Rudolf Kreitlein had cautioned both Bobby and Jack Charlton. The referee had not made his decision clear during the game, and England manager Alf Ramsey approached FIFA for post-match clarification. © 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Cards and first use Aston realized that a color-coding scheme based on the same principle as used on traffic lights (yellow - caution, red - stop) would traverse language barriers and clarify whether a player had been cautioned or expelled. Yellow cards and red cards were used for the first time in the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico. © 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M. 7
The yellow “card” Law 12 of the Laws of the Game lists the seven reasons for a caution as: Unsporting behavior Dissent by word or action Persistently infringing the Laws of the Game Delaying the restart of play Failing to respect the required distance on a corner kick, free kick or throw-in Entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission Deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission 8© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
The red “card” Law 12 lists the categories of misconduct for which a player is sent off. These are: Serious foul play (a violent foul) Violent conduct (any other act of violence) Spitting at anyone Denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball Denying an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures Receiving a second caution (yellow card) in the same match 9© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Conclusion So using the “cards” originated as a visible indication to the onlookers of the decision on the field, much as High School soccer in the United States now requires signaling of calls on the field, indicating to onlookers the nature of the call (as in American Football). 10© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Outcome Unfortunately, cards have come to supersede their intent and instead become a tool or crutch for the referee to lean upon. A WOMD = weapon of mass distribution! 11© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Facilitator The referee’s task is facilitate a game and ensure affair outcome. The “beautiful game” - is for the benefit of the players, the coaches and the spectators. The referee is meant to be the facilitator, NOT the center of attention. 12© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case Study 1 Top level youth boys league U16 game, the young referee was clearly having game management issues. Comments from players, coaches and spectators were far from complimentary. A player in frustration finally committed a hard foul and the fouled player retaliated. A further player rushed in, but the referee was there in time to isolate the players and prevent further incident. 13© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 1 cont’d The incident was open to interpretation. Clearly, it was unsportsmanlike conduct but was it serious foul play and violent conduct requiring of immediate expulsion 14© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 1 cont’d The referee drew the two players aside and spent two minutes calming them down. This allowed other players and the coaches to calm down 15© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case Study 1 Outcome The referee then issued both players red cards. The coaches at this point failed to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and the game barely finished without injury Inevitably both coaches filed complaints against the referee… 16© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 1 debrief In the debrief, the young referee agreed that by isolating the players, calming them down (and allowing the rest of the players to calm down), he had the game back under control. Yellow cards for unsportsmanlike conduct would have accomplished the intended purpose of sanctioning the players and he would have regained the respect that he had lost. 17© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 2 U19 boys game. The referee fails to identify that the top player is being harassed by the opposing team culminating in a violent tackle from behind. At that precise moment, the referee chose to look back at the trail AR and did not see the foul, just the fouled player on the ground, writhing in agony. 18© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 2 cont’d The team captain starts arguing with the referee for not calling the foul. Two teammates join in. The referee issues all three with yellow cards for dissent, flashing the cards as a weapon –in one case to a players back as he walks away in disgust. 19© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 2 debrief T he referee was invited to consider an alternative way to approach the situation: Moving away from the heated players and consulting his AR. –The players are clearly upset, why remain in the area and invite comment? If the AR saw the foul, sanction the offending player. 20© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Case study 2 debrief If the AR did not see the foul –the referee can apologize to the captain for not seeing the foul –and promise to be more protective of their top player. In this scenario, issuing of cards for dissent is avoided 21© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Who is in control? Referees need to accept responsibility for the escalation of the levels of control. 22© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Consider that.. A soccer player, who plays soccer for the love of the sport and the competition, wakes up and says “Today I am going to foul the opponents, scream and yell at the referees and bring the sport into disrepute?” 23© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Or… The player wakes up, says “great, I have a game today, I will go out there and give it my all and have a great time?” and as fouls are not called, gets progressively annoyed with the opponents and the referee for the unacceptable calls or non-calls and proceeds to retaliate against the opponents and the officials 24© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Consideration Undoubtedly, some players have a tendency toward unsportsmanlike conduct but how much can be attributed to the referee’s lack of game management? Had he been closer to the players, used his voice to say “no foul”, “hands down”, “play the ball” – how many fouls could he have prevented? 25© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Further consideration How much trust could the referee have generated in the players –who identified as the game went on that the referee was competent, knew what he was doing –and accepted the calls or non-calls as the referee verbalized his decisions? 26© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Who likes correction? The referee holds the unique ability to be 100% correct 50% of the time. The player who is fouled is validated by the verbal acknowledgement or whistle. The player who committed the foul will often disagree with the call. No-one likes being corrected. 27© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
What about me? Where a foul is not called, the player who feels they were fouled if not validated, will take matters into his or her own hands. The referee who deems the foul as trifling MUST verbally acknowledge the foul but explain the lack of call with a loud “nothing there” or “no foul” to help prevent retaliation or dissent. 28© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Options If dissent still occurs the referee can consider if it is: –Personal –Public –Provocative… Or a good time to be deaf, dumb and blind, choosing not to give the dissenter credence 29© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Tools Clearly the referee has tools at his disposal ( –voice, –whistle, – presence to diminish use of cards for dissent, unsportsmanlike conduct, delaying the restart. 30© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
What about? Surely a careless or reckless tackle using excessive force is something out of the control of the referee and so a caution would be a “good” caution? What about serious foul play? Surely that is a “good” card as the referee is protecting the player. 31© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Consider… Once again, consider that the player woke up the morning of the game and decided to intentionally hurt an opposing player –an unlikely supposition. What is more likely is the trivial fouls that were not acknowledged built and built, until in frustration the player took matter into their own hands. 32© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Consider further… An experienced referee sees the foul coming And can prevent it –by being close enough to play –and loudly telling the player “don’t even think about it” or “I am watching you” or some similar verbal deterrent © 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M. 33
Too late! At this point, how can a red card protect the player? The answer is that it cannot. The damage is already done. 34© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Source of pride? Overheard in the referee locker room: two referees discussing the average number of yellow cards issued in men’s open league. Three cards on average per game. They felt that was perfectly acceptable and that they were doing a good job. By “validating” each other, their performance somehow became “acceptable?” 35© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
The alternative… A referee doing their job with passion, covering the field adequately, positioning themselves where they need to be to see the action, verbally warning players to play the ball. constantly speaking to the players, building rapport, acknowledging trifling fouls and using their voice and whistle as needed including public verbal warnings when necessary. 36© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
Possibilty? Can this referee get through an entire game without needing to use any cards? 37© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
The question So the question remains: – is there a “good” card? 38© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
You decide! Or is the need to resort to cards indicative of the referees (in)ability to control a game? 39© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
References Evans, R. and Bellions, E. (2002). For the Good of the Game. (Canoga Park, CA: Youth Sports Publishing, Inc.) Laws of the Game Fastest Red Card football/pratt-sets-new-record-for-fastest-red- card.html football/pratt-sets-new-record-for-fastest-red- card.html Origin of Cards ws/newsid=80623.html/http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/developing/refereeing/ne ws/newsid=80623.html/ 40© 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
41 Feel free to pass this on, I can be contacted at or For the good of the game… “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” -- Edmund Burke Irish Philosopher. © 2009 by Dr. BRENT W. STEPHENS, D.M.
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