Law Changes

With the new season getting ever closer, I thought it would be good to look at some of the changes to the laws of the game (LOTG) that the IFAB have made.

The most notable change is to Law 8, The Start and Restart of Play. The ball now no longer needs to be played forward. When refereeing young children I would sometimes have to tell them that they needed to play it into the oppositions half. Thinking about it I’ve had to tell a few adult teams too! Another change to this law is the restart at corners and free-kicks. “Clearly moves” has been added to the law so teams will no longer be able to do sly touches to catch their opponents off guard, like Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs did to Chelsea in 2009.

Another one that stands out is a change to what is being called the ‘triple punishment law’. Previously if a player player committed a foul and it denied a goal scoring opportunity he would’ve automatically been sent off. Now, if the foul is deemed to be accidental as opposed to reckless a yellow card will be enough punishment. I think this is a good change and will keep the games competitive.

When a player goes down injured, if the offending player is cautioned or sent off, the injured player does now not need to leave the field of play for quick treatment.For me this should have been changed to be under the referees control completely. A player could pick up and injury from a challenge that does not warrant a yellow or red card, but he/she may not really need to leave the pitch for treatment.

Players will no longer be booked for a handball stopping an opponent receiving possession of the ball but will be cautioned if it stops a promising attack. I can see this still causing controversy as it will be the referees opinion if the attack was going to be promising or not, and the TV pundits will have looked at 100 different camera angles to prove the referee wrong!

Also being outlawed is the last second stutter before taking a penalty, with those found guilty of the illegal feint will be shown a yellow card and an indirect free-kick awarded to the opposition. This will be interesting to see this one enforced!


The Premier League Is Back And So Is The Controversy!

So the Barclays Premier League kicked off this weekend and it gave us the usual controversial incidents!

A lot was made of the goalkeeping situation at Chelsea over the summer, and it should be that a Chelsea ‘keeper is the major talking point of the weekends games.

The officials did well to work as a team, as Chelsea’s Courtois was given a red card. The first decision they got right was keeping the flag down as the Blues defence thought Gomis was offside, but he was played onside by Willian. As Gomis then took the ball towards the area, Courtois came running off his line to challenge him. The Frenchman then looked to knock the ball past him but was caught by the ‘keeper. There’s no question it was a foul but the big question was where did it occur. Michael Oliver was a little bit behind the play due to the quickness of the break by Swansea but got himself into the best possible position to see if there was any infringement, his assistant on the far side was in a fantastic position to see the foul happened just inside the area.

The biggest decision Michael Oliver had to make was the colour of the card he was to give to Courtois. He went for red, for denying a goalscoring opportunity. This has split the masses. I think its 50/50 in whether it was right or wrong. Mr Oliver has felt that the two Chelsea defenders that were trying to get back, wouldn’t have done so in time. My personal view is that the speed of the ball and Gomis plus the angle if he’d shot first time meant it wasn’t a clear opportunity to score. If he had taken a touch I believe that Cahill would’ve closed down enough and John Terry would have reached the goal line, so still not an obvious goalscoring opportunity.

Michael Oliver gives Chelsea's Courtois his marching orders

Michael Oliver gives Chelsea’s Courtois his marching orders

If I had been the referee I think I would have done the same as Michael Oliver, as soon as the foul happened he would have looked towards the goal and seen the space behind Chelsea’s ‘keeper and felt red was his only option. I think Michael Oliver had a good game and controlled the game well.

Another decision by a referee that has caused a bit of controversy was the decision by ┬áSimon Hooper to rule out an effort by┬áJerome, his acrobatic equaliser was ruled out for a high foot. Yes it was high but was it dangerous? Its hard to argue with the reasoning behind the referees decision but II felt that it wasn’t dangerous play and the goal should have stood. If Jerome had his studs showing towards his opponent then I would say that’s dangerous play.

Simon Hooper signals a high foot after disallowing Jerome's goal

Simon Hooper signals a high foot after disallowing Jerome’s goal

It easy for us watching at home to see all the replays and angles but all that matters is the refs view!

Chapter 25 – A Champion Idea

A few years ago when it was announce that there would be an extra official behind the goal lines I thought this was a great idea. It would help the referee with decision in the penalty area and for goal line decisions too, helping reduce the errors and missed incidents. However Man City will be feeling the extra officials may as well not gave been there, in their Champions League match against Roma.

At the start of the season I wrote about handballs, why some were given and others not. When Roma’s Manolas slid to block a cross by City’s Jesus Navas, he left his arm trailing on the floor, when the the ball strikes it, it bounces up and a chance for Aguero to have a shot gone.

IMG_3270-0.JPGif the extra official had been this side he would’ve had a clear view.

I’ve not seen a replay where I can see what view the referee had, so let’s just assume that his view was blocked. If he can’t see it he can’t give it. I once ignored shouts for a handball because the sun was in my eyes. I was told by both teams that maradona would’ve been proud of it! But I wasn’t 100% sure gave nothing.

I can’t help but think that if the extra official behind the goal was in the right back area instead if the left back, he would’ve seen the handball and been able to advise the referee he should award a penalty. To have assistant referees covering the left back it would make sense to have the extra official the other side to give the officiating team more coverage.

This week I was an assistant referee at a game where a bizarre incident occurred. Team A took a corner and one of their players noticed that Team B’s keeper was changing his gloves and as a sporting gesture caught the ball much like West Ham’s Paolo Di Canio against Everton and alerted the referee to the keeper. Much to everyone’s shock the referee awarded Team B a free kick. The referee actually did everything by the book, but I felt sorry for Team B. I thought the referee could’ve shown common sense and allowed Team A to retake the corner but he was somewhat older than me and I think set in his ways, nothing wrong with that of course.

Chapter 12 – That’s a penalty ref!

At Upton Park this weekend we saw a few controversial decisions. So how did the referee come to make the decisions that he did?

Approaching half-time with the scores level, Liverpool attack looking to break the deadlock before the interval. As Luis Suarez tries to plays the ball past James Tomkins, the defender leaves his arm out and moves his hand in the direction of the ball. The referee acts as he should by awarding the penalty and issuing a yellow card to Tomkins for deliberate handball. Not a difficult one for Anthony Taylor.

20140408-145242.jpgTompkins handles in the first half

Before the half is up, West Ham force a corner. As the ball is played in, Andy Carroll jumps up leading with his arms and goes in to Mignolet, causing the Liverpool keeper to drop the ball and Guy Demel flicks the ball in the net and runs off to celebrate, the goal is awarded but his assistant is flagging and Anthony Taylor goes over to speak to him. After a few moments he stands by his original decision and allows the goal.

So why did the assistant flag? Why did the referee overrule him?

Did the assistant think it was handball by Carroll? Or was he saying it was a foul on the keeper?

It’s easy for us all watching on tele to say it was a foul but you need to remember the officials don’t have that view! They can only base their decisions on what they see. If the referee believes his view is better than that of his assistant then he can overrule the flag, which on this occasion he did, even though he’ll realise later he should’ve listened to his assistant as it was a clear infringement by Carroll on the Liverpool keeper.

20140408-144455.jpgCarroll’s unpunished foul on Mignolet

The second penalty awarded to Liverpool was a controversial decision. The replays show than the Liverpool fullback Flanagan got to the ball before Adrian, but the hammers keeper got a touch on the ball before his momentum took him into his opponent. So based on that, it shouldn’t have been awarded, but remember, the referee doesn’t have the replays to refer to.

20140408-151033.jpgAdrian just gets a touch on the ball

As a referee, when a challenge happens one of the things to look out for is the direction of the ball afterwards. If the ball has changed direction that’s usually a good indication that the defending player has won the ball. But the referee has to be 100% sure before awarding a free kick or penalty.

In this case, the ball didn’t really change direction, so upon Anthony Taylor seeing the touch by Flanagan wouldn’t have seen the touch by Adrian therefor he would’ve been 100% in his mind that it was a foul. He gave himself a few moments to think about the situation too. The assistant on the far side would not have able to give it as it was not in his jurisdiction. The referee was in a good position, it just happens that something’s are not easy to spot, due to players blocking his line of vision.

20140408-143037.jpgThe areas the assistant should flag if he sees an infringement

This isn’t a case of bad refereeing or the ref trying to make amends for incorrectly allowing the west ham goal to stand, it’s just a case of bad luck for the Hammers and good fortune for Liverpool.

Would technology help? Would extra officials help? If they were behind the goals like they are in European games could they make the correct call? I would have the extra official on the other side to where they are in the Champions League as it would give the team of officials greater coverage of angles. Having said that, if they were there right in front of the incident would he/she have been too close to it to see it as clear as the TV cameras.

Another call by Anthony Taylor that upset Luis Suarez, was the decision not to award a third penalty to Liverpool after ball hit Armero on the hand. The ball flicked up off the Columbians foot and as he was moving backwards and the ball hit his hand. The reason this is not a penalty is the defenders hand was in a natural position and he made no movement of his arm towards the ball.

Football fans are too quick to judge the ref when things go against their team!

Could they do a better job? Probably not!

Chapter 10 – On the line

Yesterday I was involved in my first game for a few months. I was an assistant referee (or lino if you prefer) in an under 18s match.

I really enjoy being a linesman, although I feel it’s a much harder job than being the referee in the middle.

As a referee you can almost choose your position, as the assistant you have to be inline with the second last defending player. You also have to know where the attacking player who is receiving the ball was when the ball was played. If when watching on the tele you think it looks easy, may I suggest the next time you see a Sunday league match taking place, offer to have the flag and see for yourself.

I arrived nice and early and had a look at the conditions. The pitch looked good and the weather seemed to be ok, then just as we were about to come out of the changing rooms the heavens opened!

20140327-085909.jpgme during the game

The game was played in a really good spirit from the start. The home keeper made a great save tipping a long range effort on to the bar. Overall I would say the game was fairly even apart from the away team took their chances eventually winning 4-1, a scoreline I felt was a little harsh.

There was the usual disagreement with the odd decision by the referee but he wasn’t constantly bothered by either team and was allowed to control the game. I must praise both teams on their attitude, especially the home side. I’ve seen all to often, a team starts to concede a few goals and there discipline goes out the window, not on this occasion. They continued to play a good game. No rash tackles, no off the ball incidents and no verbal abuse to opposing players or us officials.

Dispute the rain and it being very cold it was an enjoyable afternoon.


Please check out a great referee pod which this month looks at the importance of the RA (Refereees Association)