Week 10 Match Incident

One of my match incidents from Week 10 Sunday deserves a post of its own because the argument rolls on and not to mention that it ruined my whole day.

Deliberately Handling the Ball


A defender is four metres from the top of the penalty area and in possession of the ball. The concentration of players were in that half (Futsal). The defender attempted to clear the ball and pulled his leg back for the clearance. Meanwhile an attacker quickly stole possession of the ball but the defender was slow to react and kicked to attempt to get the ball but missed. He instead kicked the attacking player on his heel.

The attacker fell down in a heap with a yell. The referees didn’t react and allowed play to continue. The ball was threateningly passed around the penalty area in an attempt to find a goal-scoring opportunity while the attacker was still on the ground on his side not moving, holding his shin and the side of the face on the ground.

Play then moved away from the penalty area from a clearance and after what was 10 seconds later, a defender jumped up in the air in the centre circle and struck the ball in the air with an outstretched arm to stop play. An attacker four metres away yelled to appeal while the defender indicated that he was stopping play for the injured player. The whistle was blown to award a free kick for deliberately handling the ball. I attended to the injured player and there was no unrest/disagreement. Meanwhile my partner went directly to the defender to caution him for unsporting behaviour. I saw this coming and quickly tried to calm him down since the caution wasn’t necessary nor warranted.

From our half-time discussion, there was misunderstanding that blatant handling is worthy of a caution. It can be circumstantially.

Disciplinary sanctions & LOTG references

There are circumstances when a caution for unsporting behaviour is required when a player deliberately handles the ball, e.g. when a player:
  • deliberately handles the ball to prevent an opponent gaining possession
  • attempts to score a goal by deliberately handling the ball

Page 119, FIFA LOTG 2013-2014

The word blatant was in the LOTG before but removed due to translation issues into other languages and not a necessary description of an incident. But do you see anywhere it says blatant? I certainly can’t and have been trying to convince my colleague as such.

There also lies the Unsporting behaviour edge case which the black hole of all things wrong in the game.

There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour, e.g. if a player

  • acts in a manner which shows a lack of respect for the game

Page 123, FIFA LOTG 2013-2014


I ended up rescinding the card. The heat and temperature of the match had increased upon display of the card but I was able to quell it after taking it back. It looked poor on behalf of the referee team but was the right decision. What’s more important? Making the right call or standing solid as a team with a decision without wavering?


10 comments on “Week 10 Match Incident

  1. Sounds to me like you played an advantage at first…correct?
    If so, was there an accumulated foul afterwards? If not, then I think you may have got this one wrong. lol The attacker was kicked should have been awarded a DFK. I know what you’re going to say “but, the defender was already in the motion of kicking the ball but it was stolen and he ended up mistakenly kicking the attacker”. Regardless…LOTG Law 12 says that a DFK is awarded to the opposing team is a player Kicks or Attempts to Kick his opponent. It says nothing about it having to be deliberate. A kick is a kick! 🙂 😛

    In any case…I agree that the caution was harsh and it should have only been a DFK for handling. Yes, the referee team looks a little bad, but in the end your match control and man management was not compromised and you were able to make the right call. Good job!

    • larbitre says:

      Actually it was hesitance. I can’t confidently say we played advantage with the signal. More of a freeze. There was no accumulated foul after but I knew I missed that along with the DFK. I agree it was a foul. Just missed.
      I felt the rescinding had a very negative effect on the crew’s credibility and looked like we weren’t on the same page and affected the rest of the night of games. Sour taste.

      • I was taught (and FIFA’s online tools indicate likewise) that advantage in futsal should only be played when there is a clear goal scoring opportunity that arises.

        From your description above, that never materialized, so there should have been a late whistle, pulled back for the foul/etc. At that point if people ask, you simply say, “It looked like there would be an immediate chance at the goal, but once that did not materialize, there was no obvious advantage on the play.”

        At that point, you still have credibility, you still have match control, you still have respect, and there’s no need to show (and rescind) a card for what is really actually “sporting behaviour” rather than USB.

        • larbitre says:

          I don’t know Alex… I think we might have to agree to disagree there. From my understanding, advantage should be applied when it would penalise the offended team more to stop play than to allow it to continue. This is with the hope that play develops to a promising attack or even better, an OGSO.
          It would have never reached an OGSO because 9 players on the court were in that half so minimal space but there was lots of rotation and a skilled team. The foul was missed unfortunately so we didn’t pull back for the original offence.

      • Big problem with advantage in futsal is that… there’s not a lot of space to really have that advantage materialize unless there is going to be a specific goal scoring opportunity directly.

        Missing the foul is one thing, and an understandable one (trust me, I see more missed fouls every week at our futsal than I’d like, but that’s another story), but advantage in futsal is a different beast than in soccer (as evidenced by watching the recent UEFA Euros or the previous World Cup games). Outdoor on the large field, advantage can materialize in different ways, but in futsal with the compressed space, and especially when all of the players are in one half… there’s not going to be any advantage unless the ball falls to someone who shoots at the net (with a good chance) immediately. The more games I see (both at our level and at higher levels), the more I understand why the FIFA instructional material (as limited as it is out there) leans to that side of the fence.

        • larbitre says:

          Agreed. Smaller space to work with but players are usually trained to capitalise on any space!
          Definitely a different mindset to application of advantage but things take their course and team can be happy that the accumulated foul is still recorded. Any specific spot/video you found supporting FIFA material?

  2. I think the question you ask is a situational one. There are times when making the right call is the most important thing, and times when it is more important to look good as a team.

    If you are in a situation where you already have the players’ respect, I would say the right call is more important. However, in a match where it feels like control is slipping away, I would argue that it is better to stand as a team. But even that has grey area. I don’t think you can make a black and white statement to answer that question. It has to be situational. I was watching that game, and I think you made the right call in terms of match control (though as is often the case, the messy situation could have likely been avoided by calling the first foul).

  3. @southsurreyfc (Kevyn Oyhenart) says:

    I think that getting the call right is the most important thing for the integrity of the game. Look at the Wolfsburg player who told the Ref he tripped over himself and that is was not a penalty. Does it undermine the Referee’s credibility? To a point it does. Will it affect man management further in the game? it could do especially if there is another penalty call for the opposite team. But to me the most important thing is being able to admit mistakes and get the call correct. Whether it is an AR and or a CR.
    As far as the handball in your game situation. I would ask myself, in the true spirit of the game, what was the player trying to accomplish? Was he taking a scoring opportunity on a quick counter attack away? did he/she do it to gain an advantage and perhaps score themselves? In this situation it was done to get a player some treatment for an injury. Was it a handball? Yes. Restart could be a DFK/PK or even a drop ball if you can sell it that you were going to blow the whistle to allow treatment of the injury. In this situation, although technically correct with the Caution, you would cause more harm than good by doing so. You will lose credibility and control of the man management aspect as there will be hard feelings. We cannot always do what is technically correct, sometimes we need to think outside the box for greater good of our game.
    Now you mention the USB category of bringing the game into disrepute (old terminology but still relevant) and or showing a lack of respect for the game. This would only apply to instances of treating the game, the referee, or the opponents in a disrespectful manner; often by those attempting to show they are above the game. It is conduct that detracts from the enjoyment of the game. When this is not dealt with by the referees, it leads to a mass confrontation and what everyone else calls a brawl.
    Great article and lots of feedback.



  4. larbitre says:

    I believe I did a dropped ball restart but I was more worried/focused on the discipline decision than the restart at that point so I made a mistake there.
    Definitely great points about Di Canio and the Wolfsburg player.
    I felt the decision slightly shook calls in the rest of the game but nothing detrimental. Enough for an assessor and players to notice though and to put me off for that game and the next but the night ended early.
    Thanks for weighing in Kevyn! If I had known everyone would read these kind of posts and comment, I would post stuff like this more often!

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