By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer
In Play of the Week 15 we are discussing positioning at set plays and, in particular, a corner kick at the end of the first half in the Orlando City versus D.C. United game.
As the corner kick was being taken by Fabian Espindola, referee Jose Carlos Rivero took a position fairly close to the point where the penalty arc meets the penalty area, opposite to the AR, Craig Lowry.
This is the standard position that referees adopt, which is illustrated in the Laws of the Game on page 75 (see below). This position would usually allow the referee to have a good view of all of the players within the penalty area.
On this occasion, however, the majority of the players were positioned adjacent with the far post, which meant the referee was somewhat remote from where any potential foul would occur. Due to Rivero’s rigid position, it was impossible for him to see Orlando’s Sean St Ledger deliberately pull the shirt of D.C.’s Perry Kitchen.
I would advise any referee at set plays into the penalty area to look at the positions of the players, and then consider where their priority is and work out where the optimum position is.
Referees also cannot afford to be to stationary and should move towards the dropping zone. This is where referees have to be flexible and not rigidly stick to prescriptive positions.
If Rivero had taken a position opposite, outside of the penalty arc towards AR Lowry, which is somewhat unorthodox but would have provided him with a perfect view, it would also have given him presence, deterring players from taking risks in full sight of the referee.
However, it is unfair to place all the responsibility on the referee’s shoulders as this is where teamwork should come in and awareness from the other members of the crew. AR Lowry and fourth official Marcos De Oliveira should have been aware of the referee’s position and scanned the area that is out of view of the center official, but it appeared that no help from them was forthcoming.
The foul took place just prior to the ball being released into play. Therefore, a PK could not have been awarded as the Laws of the Game state:
Law 12: Basic requirements for a foul – It must occur while the ball is in play
However, there are a lot of learning points from this play and to reiterate:
– Referees must position themselves in the optimum position to see any potential misconduct
– Referees must position themselves to have a presence, to deter any potential misconduct
– Referees should manage holding and shirt pulling in the penalty area – delay the kick and speak to the player(s) concerned
– ARs and fourth officials should always scan the area which is out of view of the referee and assist accordingly