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In the latest Play of the Week, PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer takes a look at the importance of teamwork.
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” - Helen Keller.
The quote from Helen Keller above is indeed true for match officials - it is impossible for the referee to see every offense that occurs on the field of play, therefore it is the responsibility of one of the team to spot any misconduct that takes place out of sight of the referee.
This week’s Play of the Week features an incident in the game between San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew. In an off-the-ball incident out of sight of referee Kevin Stott, Crew defender Giancarlo Gonzalez barges heavily into Earthquakes' Chris Wondolowski, causing him to fall to the ground.
Wondolowski does not over-react, immediately gets to his feet and barely touches Gonzalez, who theatrically falls to ground in a clear case of embellishment. His actions alone in the barge and the embellishment could have resulted in a red card. As he had already received a yellow card he should have been sent off in any case.
I have no doubts the MLS Disciplinary Committee will deal with Giancarlo Gonzalez but that should be of no concern or excuse to the match officials. The referee should always be in a position to have the majority of players in full view, particularly in and around the penalty area, which is often a volatile area.
You can see that the incident(s) take place just out of the referee’s line of vision. A position slightly more central and away from the penalty area would have helped. If the referee does not see an incident, what are the duties of the referee crew in this situation?
Law 6, The Assistant Referees, says:
Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:
When misconduct or any other incident occurs out of the view of the referee
In this scenario the primary role of Anthony Vasoli AR2 (nearside), would have been offside which would have put this incident directly in his peripheral line of vision. Therefore he should have been expected to see the misconduct and report it to Kevin Stott.
AR1, (far side) Corey Rockwell’s prime function here, while he is stationed on the halfway line is to scan the field of play for areas where the referee may not be looking, in this case behind the referee’s back in the penalty area. By focusing on this area he may have had a chance of seeing Gonzalez’s actions.
The 4th Official Daniel Radford also has a responsibility 'to assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the laws'. In today’s game the 4th Official is an extra pair of eyes for the referee and could have assisted if he had witnessed this misconduct.
To summarize there is a collective responsibility for match officials to see and act on instances of misconduct. It is difficult to defend and disappointing when all four officials fail to see, recognize and act, however difficult, and make no mistake about it, this is a difficult situation for the match officials as it is unexpected and off the ball.
So it is somewhat understandable for them all, in various degrees, to have missed this act. However it is moments like this when match officials can elevate themselves from good to outstanding.
Don’t settle for good and don’t waste the opportunity to be outstanding.