Thursday, July 18, 2024
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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 29: Assistant Referees taking responsibility

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

We have spoken before about assistant referees taking responsibility on critical decisions, particularly when they have a better view than the referee. In the Laws of the Game it is listed as one of the prime functions for an assistant referee.

“Two assistant referees may be appointed whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:

– When the whole of the ball leaves the field of play

– Which team is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in

– When a player may be penalized for being in an offside position

– When a substitution is requested

– When misconduct or any other incident occurs out of view of the referee

– When offenses have been committed whenever the assistant referees have a better view than the referee (this includes in certain circumstances, offenses committed in the penalty area)

– Whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper moves off the goal line before the ball is kicked and if the ball crosses the line”

You will notice that the law actually states that the AR has to indicate, this obviously means with the flag – not only over the communication kit. ARs have to take the responsibility and have the confidence in their decision making to demonstrate that they are making the call.

We are highlighting two important calls from Week 29, where ARs have made critical calls and have taken the responsibility by indicating with their flag.

The first one is from San Jose Earthquakes versus Montreal Impact, at 47:42 to 48:40, when Impact’s Ambroise Oyongo commits a serious foul play challenge on Earthquakes’ Matias Perez Garcia, which clearly endangers the safety of the opponent.


You can see Jones’ studs go in high on Murphy’s leg. AR Fabio Tovar has a clear view of the incident and not only raises his flag but agitates the flag vigorously to indicate the seriousness of the offense.

Following the correct advice from Tovar, referee Allen Chapman has no hesitation in sending off Oyongo.

The second example is from Sporting Kansas City versus FC Dallas, when there is a foul on Sporting’s Dom Dwyer by Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez in the penalty area towards AR Paul Scott, who has no hesitation in raising his flag for the PK.

Referee Mark Geiger, who has total faith in Scott, confidently points to the spot.


These actions by the ARs require the following attributes:

– Awareness
– Assistance
– Concentration
– Courage
– Confidence
– Foul recognition accuracy
– Flag technique

The other significance of these two plays is the ARs in question are both retiring. Fabio started in MLS in the 2002 season and he retires having officiated 210 matches. Paul Scott started in the league in 1996, and has officiated 230 games.

Read more: Assistant referee Paul Scott accepts new role with CONCACAF

They are no strangers to making big decisions and these examples are typical of their tremendous service to PRO, MLS and to refereeing. Any aspiring AR with ambitions of being successful at the highest level must aspire to be as good as these two.

They will be sorely missed!

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