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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 30: Using excessive force

PRO Training & Development Manger Paul Rejer looks at ‘using excessive force’ in Play of the Week 30, with two examples from recent MLS games.

He said: “As we approach the business end of the season it is worth reiterating the importance of referees acting decisively when players commit acts of serious foul play.

“The Laws of the Game state, ‘using excessive force’ means that the player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent. A player who uses excessive force must be sent off

“At two games over the weekend – New York Red Bulls versus Houston Dynamo and San Jose Earthquakes versus Portland Timbers – the referees were presented with foul challenges from players that met the criteria of ‘using excessive force’.

“Take a look at the two plays in the below videos, then consider the following questions.

– Does the player have a chance of playing the ball in a fair manner?

– Does the player show clear malice when making the challenge?

– What degree of speed/intensity is the player using when making the challenge? Consider distance travelled

– Is the player making the challenge off the ground/airborne and in control of his actions?

– What was the direction of the tackler’s feet?

– Did the player use his studs when making a tackle?

– Does the challenge clearly endanger the safety of the opponent?

“I do not need to describe Tim Cahill’s foul on Boniek Garcia or Pablo Pinto’s foul on Rodney Wallace as it is clear that all of the above criteria applied in both plays and the referees, Jair Marrufo and Kevin Stott, were correct to issue red cards.

“However, it is worth examining the similarities between the two plays and what up-and-coming referees can learn from these experienced senior PRO referees.

Positioning: Absolutely crucial in making the correct call. In both cases the referees were at a perfect distance, not too far away but not too close. They were also observing from an ideal viewing angle which is vital.

Demeanor: Both referees were calmness personified. They dealt swiftly and efficiently in display the red card but at the same time showed empathy to the injured player.

Time: It is also worth noting the times of these incidents being 87:50 at New York and 92:45 at San Jose. Both are important times in the games when match officials have to keep their focus and not switch off.

“Due to the above key elements being displayed, there was no escalation as a result of the fouls using excessive force. The perpetrators accepted their red cards and showed concern for the injured player.

“There was no dissent from any other players – an acceptance that the referee had seen, recognized and acted in an appropriate manner.”

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