I’ve received several questions and comments about the video clip from the BYU / New Mexico State women’s soccer match–the famous take down away from the play when the defender pulled a girl down by her ponytail. I saw the clip on ESPN the morning after while running on the treadmill at the gym. It also appeared on YouTube. It was a nasty match where the referee only awarded one caution.

It is hard to evaluate games on video, even harder when all you have is a snip. In my opinion, even in a Division 1 match, the pulldown should have merited a red card / ejection. I was in a match early in my career where I was reluctant to pull out the red card–and it cost me. Although I’m pretty famous for not giving lots of cards, there are times. In the last minute of my last match of the season this year, I had a red for spitting.

The real question, though, is what was going on the entire match. Play leading up to the pull down was quite rough with one girl kicking the ball into an opponent at point-blank range and other rough play. If you are learning about being a referee, you need to consider the entire match. Was there a point where things heated up and a strong referee presence was required? Perhaps just a strong word, or a strong whistle and foul call, or perhaps a caution. As things heat up, a well placed caution can let players know you’re watching and concerned. Perhaps a caution earlier in the match would have cut out the blatant misconduct that occurred in the clip. I’m only conjecturing, because I didn’t see the entire game. But I have a feel for how these things go.

Ireland v France

In another match, my condolences go to Ireland in its match against France that determined who advanced to the World Cup. I was traveling (yet again) and didn’t see the match. But my ex-defender son told me that on the winning goal France was clearly offside on the first touch and that Henry obviously handled the ball before serving the winning assist. It’s a shame the officiating crew missed that. You can bet that we will be seeing videos of that play in next winter’s instructions on handling.

By the way, please note my terminology. There is no foul called “hand ball.” There IS a foul called handling. Also, in soccer we have “offside” because the player is off his side. In American football, there is “offsides” because–I don’t know why 😉

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