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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 17: Mass confrontation

By PRO Director of Training and Education Paul Rejer

In Play of the Week 17 we are once again discussing the subject of mass confrontation and the match officials’ role in dealing with it. The play is from the rivalry game between Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas.

When Dallas player Kellyn Acosta goes down injured, play continues with his team in possession. Houston then gain possession and continue an attacking move, but Dallas players are angry as they expect Dynamo to kick the ball out of play, hence the start of the confrontation. The opposition team have no obligation to kick the ball out of play, and why should they when the injured player’s team continued to play on?

In the center of the confrontation, assistant referee Brian Dunn is trying to break up the melee. His flag is on the ground and if he wasn’t wearing a yellow jersey you would think he was just another player.

What did he actually achieve? By running to the scene in this manner it can send out an open invitation and actually encourage others to become involved. Rather than having a calming effect, it can be argued that Dunn inflamed the situation.

By positioning himself amongst the players, rather than observing from the periphery, Dunn limits his ability to detect the intentions of the players. By standing and observing from distance it is easier to identify which players are acting as peace-makers from those inflaming the situation.

Match officials put themselves at risk by being in the middle of such a volatile situation – they are effectively ‘joining in’ rather than remaining calm, concentrated and observing.

Referee Kevin Stott adheres to prescribed procedures. He remains calm, stands on the periphery, observes and notes the perpetrators before correctly cautioning them. The whole scene was eventually calmed, it always is. We are dealing with professional players in a civilized country!

To remind you of the approved PRO advice – Officials conduct at mass confrontations:

– Showing observation and meaningful dialogue
– Remaining calm and concentrated
– Being assertive
– Being in appropriate viewing positions
– Issuing appropriate sanctions

It is vitally important that officials remain calm and adhere to all the approved practices and do not put themselves at risk. They are referees, not policemen.

Play of the Week: Click here to read more educational material from Paul Rejer



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