On Saturday Sept 12, 2009 the U17 GVW Rush and Wesburn FC played the first game of the 2009-2010 4-districts soccer season.
Prior to the game during his pre-game talk to our team, the referee indicated that the league would be cracking down on bad language on the field and that any kind of swearing would constitute a red card offence. (It seemed at the time, or perhaps we assumed, that he was re-iterating that swearing at the referee or the other team was a red-card offence. Something that we all know).
During the game, three of our players did get excited, swore (to themselves for making bad plays), and were sent off with red cards. At the end of the game we were playing with 8 players on the field.
This was not insulting or abusive language directed at officials or the other team. This was a personal expression of frustration at making a bad play.
The normal procedure to deal with a red card is that the Discipline coordinator for the district reviews the referee's report, and determines whether the player and coach need to appear at a disciplinary hearing. It turns out we do.
In the mean time, I talked to other coaches and referees who were involved in games that weekend. None of the several people I talked to had heard of this new strict interpretation of Law 12 (offensive, insulting, or abusive language), and it was not mentioned at their games and was not a factor in their games.
As far as we can tell, ours was the only game that was officiated with this strict interpretation of Law 12. Our best guess is that our referee misinterpreted the beginning of the year talk about 'keeping a handle on bad language' as a zero-tolerance crack-down with an immediate red card and no discretion to the referee.
This has resulted in a very unfortunate situation: three boys are given red cards, are required to sit out the next game, which means that the team will be short of players. No other team in the league is affected (as far as we know).
The cause of this seems to be a misunderstanding by a referee that resulted in a single game being officiated in a manner that was different from all other games officiated that day, and different from all other games officiated in the 4 districts in the past five years (at least in my experience).
From intitial talks with the Discipline coordinator, who is also the VYSA president, and the Referee-In-Chief, this red cards will stand. We'll see how the Discipline hearing goes....
Not quite “let the kid's play”, is it.