By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer
This week we are discussing dealing with mass confrontation and, in particular, an incident in the New York Red Bulls versus Toronto FC game in the ninth minute.
Confrontations can occur at any time and for any reason. When it occurs so early in the game as this, with no indication of any warning signs, it can take the refereeing crew by surprise.
I have often said that it is unwise for any match official to put himself in danger by running in between players, separating them and pulling them apart. It rarely achieves anything; in fact it can often inflame an already heated situation.
In this example, prior to a corner kick taking place, pushing occurs between opponents – firstly between Red Bulls’ Matt Miazga and Toronto’s Benoit Cheyrou before, inevitably, more players join in and the whole scenario escalates.
Realizing that putting himself in the middle of this confrontation is totally futile, referee Baldomero Toledo backs away so he can have a full view of the whole situation.
The ARs, Corey Parker and Oscar Mitchell-Carvalho, move closer from their touchline positions so they can also witness any potential misconduct. They know that the confrontation will diffuse by itself. They always do (just to qualify, when I say that I am talking about MLS and the EPL, where I worked previously. I cannot vouch for other leagues and countries around the world).
In this case, when it eventually dies down, the officials are all satisfied that nothing occurred that warranted a sanction. Toledo identifies the aggressors and speaks firmly to Miazga and Cheyrou, warning them of their future conduct.
This is how I would advise any match official to deal with mass confrontation. If the officials cannot step in immediately to quickly diffuse then it is often too late to have any impact. Therefore, the benefits of Toledo backing away are as follows:
– Provided a full view of the whole scene
– Did not put himself in danger
– Did not inflame the situation
– Was confident he didn’t miss any potential misconduct as he witnessed the whole event
– Was able to remain calm and out of the heat
Also, by keeping out of the scrum, he is actually passing on the responsibility to the players to calm down. Quite often if the referee is there to break the players up, they will show bravado to their opponents.
However, if they are left alone, the majority of players are sensible enough to not put themselves in danger in a physical nature or being the recipient of a red card.