Second Cautionable Offenses and Persistent Infringement

A top class referee is able to identify and deal with players who persistently infringe the Laws of the Game. At the same time, referees must possess the courage to issue a second caution to a player and then send him off for receiving a second caution in the same match.

Let us first explore the concept of Persistent Infringement. Managing persistent infringement requires that the referee maintain an ongoing database of information during the game. As fouls are committed, the referee should use the database to store information regarding the players involved, the time, and the frequency of the fouls. As the referee processes the information, he must decide when the stored information requires official action (yellow card). This is not easy due to the speed of the game and the other game management issues confronting the referee. Despite the difficulty in processing the stored information, it is critical that the referee possess the skills necessary to identify players who fall into the categories below and then address them.

Persistent infringement falls under two categories:

Players who repeatedly commit fouls.

To disrupt play and ruin the entertainment value of a game, players persistently/repeatedly foul opponents. Such conduct often causes the frustration level of opponents to rise and, therefore, the intensity level of the game to increase. This can lead to dissent and retaliation. Recognizing players who persistently/repeatedly foul opponents is critical to game control. Once the referee has identified the disruptive actions, the referee must pick the appropriate time to caution the culprit for persistently infringing the Laws of the Game. There is no magic number of fouls that define persistence. The severity, the frequency, the time between the fouls committed, and the atmosphere of the game are all factors that the referee should consider when determining whether a player is guilty of persistent infringement. In writing the game report, the referee should state that the caution was issued for “persistently infringing the Laws of the Game.”

 Players who are repeatedly fouled.

 Often times an individual player is the target of repeated fouls – fouls from not one player but from multiple players. This targeted player can be the skillful/creative play maker, the player who gets repeated touches on the ball. In this case, persistent infringement is evaluated in terms of the number and nature of the fouls committed against a single opponent as opposed to the number of fouls committed by a single player. The referee should also consider the time span of the fouls.

 Note: When a referee identifies a case of persistent infringement that falls under category 2 above (“Players who are repeated fouled”), the game report should list the caution as being issued for “unsporting behavior.” This should be the case as this is more of a philosophical approach to persistent infringement.

According to U.S. Soccer’s DVD entitled, “Persistent Infringement,” referees should consider the following when evaluating persistent infringement:

Read the game tactically
Be aware of creative players
Be aware of destructive tactics aimed at destroying the rhythm of the game
Be aware of the time span of the fouls: three fouls in three minutes vs. three fouls occurring in minutes 2, 47, and 88.
Promote the beautiful game