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Cal South E-News | November 2012 REFEREE EDUCATION

November 16, 2012


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Cal South Referee Education

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I am looking for some clarification as to what constitutes "last man standing."

Two weeks ago, one of my defenders received a red card because he fouled a forward on the other team. A penalty was called. After the penalty, the referee turned around and gave our player a red card because the opposing coach was telling the ref that because our defender was the "last man standing," he should get a red card. Even with our goalie in the goal area (whom I feel would be the last man standing), the ref went ahead and gave our defender the red card.

I didn't say anything, because I was still under the impression that he would be out one game. It has now come to my attention that my player has to sit out two games, which I think is unfair for my player.

My first question is, was "last man standing" a correct call? Second, is there anything I can do that would allow him to play this weekend and perhaps miss another game? We are playing [an important game] this weekend and we need all the help we can get.


Last man?

I have to assume that this incident actually corresponds with Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct - Sending-off Offences:

• "Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player's goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick."

Based on the question, the defender committed a foul inside his own penalty area and therefore a penalty kick was awarded. We need to see the game report to find out the real reason for the red card. Not having seen the referee game report, we have to make the assumption that the referee realized that the defender had denied an "obvious goal scoring opportunity," and therefore had to be sent off for this offense. The other assumption we could make is that when the penalty kick was taken, the player might have said or did something that generated the red card.

A comment on the phrase "last man"… This has, incorrectly, been used to say that once a player has committed a foul and the attacker has only one "last man" in front of him, this becomes an automatic and obvious goal scoring opportunity. There are other factors that determine an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Some of them are:

• The direction where the attacker is going or the direction of play.
• The number of defenders the attacker has to face and their location (how far are they from the attacker to prevent him from taking a shot at the goal or to continue towards the goal). If the attacker only faces a single defender and the defender is not next to or close enough to challenge the attacker to prevent him, legally, to continue with play.
• The distance between the offence and the goal (a foul at midfield might be judged that the defenders might catch up with the player).
• The likelihood that the attacker keeps or still can control the ball to have the obvious goal scoring opportunity.

We are planning on having a video clip explaining the "denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity" posted online in the near future, using original FIFA video clips to go back to the original intent when this interpretation was introduced in 1990 as a "Mandatory Instruction of the International F.A. Board" in the Laws of the Game. I will quote how this was rewritten in 1991 and became item 15 in the Laws of the Game in Law 12 in the section, "Decision of the International F.A. Board":

• "(15) If, in the opinion of the referee, a player who is moving toward his opponent's goal with an obvious opportunity to score a goal is intentionally impeded by an opponent, through unlawful means, i.e. an offence punishable by a free kick (or a penalty kick), thus denying the attacking player's team, the aforesaid goal-scoring opportunity, the offending player shall be sent off the field of play for serious foul play in accordance with Law XII (n)."

As you can see, there's no mention whatsoever of a "last man," only of the denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Arturo Angeles
Cal South State Director of Instruction