Ask the Ref: Deceiving the Referee
Keith Hackett on tricks played by soccer players on soccer referees — Deceiving the Ref? What? Really? What is the most popular fake-out played by youth and professional soccer players?
Players going on the ground in an attempt to deceive soccer referees has been debated for a very long time in the media following the actions of a few of our high-profile players here in the English Premier League. This type of activity happens on soccer fields all across the globe and in youth and professional soccer games.
The fans of football have one word for it: DIVING!
I am sure that sitting in front of your television screens or running replays on your mobile device viewing these incidents you will make up your own mind what course of action the referee should have taken.
The detection of simulation is not an easy one for the referee, who only has one chance to see, recognize, think and act.
Simulation is an unacceptable part of our game and whilst every act is highlighted I am happy to say that instances of this type still form less than 0.1% of all decisions made in our game at the top level.
The Laws of the Game state that players must play within the laws and respect the principles of fair play and also show respect of the opponent.
Physical contact between players is normal and an acceptable part of the game.
So let’s take a look at what the law states
LAW 12 – FOULS AND MISCONDUCT
Direct Free Kick
A player must be cautioned for Unsporting Behavior if the player attempts to deceive the Referee by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (SIMULATION)
There are 5 KEY QUESTIONS THAT THE REFEREE MUST CONSIDER WHEN MAKING HIS DECISION.
- Is there contact between the players involved?
- Is there FAIR/NORMAL contact between the players, resulting in NO OFFENCE being committed?
- Is the player legitimately avoiding contact with his opponent to prevent injury?
- Has the player initiated the contact between his opponent and himself?
- Does the player EXAGGERATE a normal contact challenge?
In previous articles I have made reference to positioning and having good viewing angles to ensure that the Referee is ideally positioned to make these judgments.
There is of course a real challenge on the Referee to make an accurate and appropriate decision. There is no doubt in my mind that it is perhaps one of the most difficult decisions that he will have to make during the course of the game.
He cannot guess…..he does not have the opportunity to view replays.
A few years ago in my role as General Manager of the PGMOL in a pre-season meeting with the Managers I raised this topic and I was delighted with the response that I received. There was a clear commitment by those in attendance to rid our game of these incidents. It was pleasing to read in recent newspaper articles of the comments and actions made by David Moyes, the Manager of Manchester United, to play his part in kicking out this unacceptable part of our game.
Over the years, however, because of the increasing speed of the game these incidents are more difficult for the team of officials to detect.
I would like to see the authorities in our game look at retrospective punishment for these offences. Where the referee may have doubt about the incident, he can inform the player that he is placed on report. A review panel making use of all the camera handles can investigate the actions of the player and decide if punishment should be applied to the player.
Related Articles: Ask the Ref
Keith Hackett is a world class ref and the author of You Are the Ref, the Ultimate Illustrated Guide to the Laws of Football and the new book, You Are the Umpire. The books are available on Amazon.com. The amazing illustrations are by Paul Trevillion.
You Are The Ref is a cult classic comic strip in England. SoccerToday is thrilled to bring this to our American soccer audience and share these stunning portraits of soccer stars from all eras. For anyone who has ever questioned a ref’s eyesight or gripped with a clearly ‘wrong’ call, now it is your turn!
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Any opinions expressed in this column shall not be construed as advice on Laws of the Game, and may not represent the official position of US Soccer, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), CalSouth, the Presidio League, or any affiliates thereof unless specified with appropriate attribution.