In Play of the Week 22, PRO’s Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer discusses fouls that occur close to the extremities of the field of play.
This week’s incident is taken from the Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Sporting Kansas City game from Sunday, August 10, during added time at the end of the first half.
“The Laws of the Game state that for a foul to be awarded, the ball has to be in play. Prior to awarding a free-kick close to the extremities of the field, referees have to ensure that the ball is in play,” Rejer said.
“In the example at Vancouver, the Whitecaps are on a great attacking move when Pedro Morales threads a killer ball through Sporting’s defense to Sebastien Fernandez.
“The attacked is level with defender Aurelien Collin, and therefore onside, a superb judgement by assistant referee Brian Dunn, who correctly keeps his flag down. The adjudication by Dunn is made even better due to the fact that Darren Mattocks was in an offside position, closer to him than Fernandez, which can cause a distraction.
“Fernandez continues his run and squeezes the ball past ‘keeper Andy Gruenebaum and his effort is goal-bound. However, fantastic defending by Collin then produces a wonderful clearance on the goal-line and prevents the ball from crossing the line.
“AR Dunn, following his superb onside decision, continue to follow the ball to the goal-line and correctly decides that no goal has been scored. Perhaps that looks like an easy call to make, but he was there to make the judgement.
“At this point, Fernandez collects the loose ball and is fully in control when he is clearly fouled from behind by Sporting’s Matt Besler. Referee Dave Gantar consults with Dunn, who believes that the ball has gone out of play before the contact is made. That can be argued, but if a foul occurs as the ball is leaving the field, the match officials should award the PK in the interests of fair play.
“In my opinion, if the match officials are unsure whether the ball has left the field of play or not, as in the offside law, they should give the benefit of doubt to the attacking team and not assume or guess that the ball has left the field.
“Defenders who commit reckless foul tackles from behind when inside the penalty area deserve to concede a PK, in the interests of fair play they should not be able to escape by a technicality.”