Monday 2 April 2012

Able Referee Assistants Must Assist Referees Ably

The following incidents occurred during the MLS league match between DC United and FC Dallas on Friday 30 March 2012. The match finished 4—1.

Incident One Offside Not Given by AR1

In the 41', the ball is cleared from the penalty area by DC United goalkeeper (green). The ball is intercepted on the halfway line by FC Dallas player Daniel Hernandez (red) back toward the DC United penalty area. Here are the freeze frames:
DC United keeper Joe Willis (green) wonders why there was no Offside call

Here is the incident from another camera angle:
Referee Hilario Grajeda (yellow) appears to be looking to his right at AR1 to query whether there was an offside offence

FC Dallas player Blas Perez (red) gained an advantage from being in an offside position, and therefore should have been penalised for an offside offence. However, no offside call came and FC Dallas were awarded a goal which brought the scores level at 1—1 by half-time.

Incident Two Mass Confrontation

In the 77' with DC United running away with the match at 4—1, FC Dallas player Hernandez (red) makes a reckless challenge on DC United player Dwayne De Rosario (black). Referee Grajeda whistles for the foul but Rosario (black) decides not to wait for the Referee and takes matters into his own hands. Rosario gets up quickly and pushes Hernandez. This leads to a mass confrontation; here are the freeze frames:
Referee Grajeda shows the yellow card to FC Dallas' Hernandez (red 2) for the reckless challenge on DC United's Rosario (black 7)
During the melee, the Referee brandishes a red card to Hernandez (red 2) for his second caution of the match
During the melee, the Referee brandishes a yellow card to Rosario (black 7) for his reaction
The match officials did not make a very good Triangle of Control

While the Referee's disciplinary sanctions were correct (a second caution to FC Dallas Hernandez and a caution to DC United De Rosario), Referee Hilario Grajeda could have dealt with the situation better. Perhaps the Referee should have been aware of the increasing tensions building up.

First, for the foul, if the Referee had shown the yellow card quickly (Hernandez's second caution), that may have helped to avert the increased ill-feelings amongst the players. Instead, the Referee opted to get himself physically involved but by that time the players were not interested in the Referee's physical presence since the players were already 'kicking off' at one another.

Second, as the mass confrontation escalated, showing cards simply adds to the 'messiness' of everything. During mass confrontations, players are more interested in what other players and opponents are doing rather than what the Referee is doing or saying, so waving cards around becomes secondary and does not give any indication of being in control of the situation.

See here for an example of an effective Triangle of Control during mass confrontations from an EPL match.

Unfortunately, the ARs did not give the impression that they were ably assisting the Referee. There was also the impression that the Referee let the match run out of control. Match video highlights of the above two incidents can been seen here (on the official MLS site).

Related Post: Able Referee Assistants ... Part 2

On the same weekend, EPL Referee Peter Walton was having his final match as a professional Referee (PGMOL) in the Premiership league match between Everton and West Bromwich Albion on Saturday 31 March 2012. The match finished 2—0.

Referee Peter Walton cautions Everton's Tim Cahill
Everton manager David Moyes bids 53-year-old Referee Peter Walton farewell from the EPL

Peter Walton embarks on a new challenge as the General Manager of the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) which is responsible for match officials in the professional leagues in North America. The hope is that Walton will pass on to the MLS all the wisdom and positive elements of officiating in the EPL, while making sure that the bad elements (e.g. Referees who physically man-handle players) do not creep in to the MLS.

Here's wishing Peter Walton great success at PRO.

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