Thursday, 5 August 2010

Referees Must Show Cards Calmly, Clearly and Correctly

The following incident occurred during a SuperLiga group match between Puebla and Houston Dynamo on 21 July 2010. The match finished 0—1.

Towards the end of the match, Mexican team Puebla is a goal down and battling for top position of the group with Houston Dynamo. They are pushing for an equalizer. However, Houston Dynamo are pressing hard and disrupting play. The referee needs to keep his wits about him because tensions are beginning to rise. For instance, in the 77th minute, Danny Cruz (Houston #5) deliberately fouls a Puebla forward (#8) and the referee correctly shows him a second caution. Seven minutes later, the referee sends-off Puebla’s Melvin Brown (#31) for violent conduct.

Later in the 88th minute, a Houston player again disrupts play by fouling a Puebla player in possession of the ball. The fouled Puebla player, Álvaro González (white#13), retaliates by kicking out at the Houston player Obodai (who remains on the floor). The referee does well to get to the incident quickly, but the following nine freeze frames also show the referee’s rather ineffective actions:

[Sometimes an incorrect sanction by the match referee may induce players to take matters into their own hands]

Is it clear what the referee has done?

Here is a Match Report excerpt of the incident, which appears to be inconsistent with the match facts.
[In the 88th minute] As a desperate Puebla looked for the goal, the game eventually – and inevitably – turned a ugly. Obodai fouled Puebla’s Álvaro González near the midfield, and González upkicked Obodai. Serioux, who was nearby, bumped Gónzalez and a series shoves and slaps ensued, causing the ref to show a slew of yellow and red cards to several players.

By the end of the scuffle, two Puebla players had been ejected, leaving the Mexican club down a man, as Houston’s Danny Cruz had been sent off earlier after receiving his second yellow.

Another ejection followed soon after. Oduro was also sent off after receiving two consecutive yellows for diving and then arguing the call.

The SuperLiga match facts show that during the 88th minute incident, only two cards were shown. The referee had cautioned Houston player Adrian Serioux (#51) and sent-off Puebla player Álvaro González (#13).
[This is different from the Match Report that stated: a series shoves and slaps ensued, causing the ref to show a slew of yellow and red cards to several players.] A slew? Several players?

And this is also different from what actually happened during the melee. From the freeze frames, we actually see that the referee first shows a YC to white#13, then as the mass confrontation ensues, the referee responds by showing a RC to white#13. Presumably, the referee also cautioned orange#51.

But were the referee’s actions calm, clear and correct? Did the players accept his actions?

Obviously, the referee is within his rights to change his decision (i.e. to rescind the caution and then award a RC to white #13) before the restart of play. But would the players have reacted differently had the referee first shown a RC?

HKRef reckons these are all interesting points to ponder.

[The referee is Oscar Reyna from Guatemala]

In the end, there was a total of 8 yellow and 4 red cards (the most cards amongst all twelve of the 2010 SuperLiga group matches).

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