Benefit of doubt is the AR’s best friend, because we have seen year after year how on tight situations that keeping the flag down not only benefits attacking soccer but also usually proves to be a correct no flag. The flash lag effect has been well documented and it takes years of practice for PRO assistant referees to trust themselves to keep the flag down on those bang bang offside incidents. This week we want to again remind all to keep giving benefit of doubt to the attack.
So far this season PRO ARs have been 95.6% accurate when raising the flag - not bad at all, but much more accurate when not flagging at 98.8% There have been 24 incorrect flags up and only 13 incorrect flags kept down so far this season.
First, work hard to be in good position - bursts of speed, quick adjustments, etc. Second - if in doubt, keep the flag down.
Possible Interfering with Opponent - Benefit of Doubt
We’ve seen a few similar plays where the focus has been VAR Delay.
As you can see, the PRO AR correctly identifies and implements VAR Delay as there is an imminent goal scoring opportunity. However, VAR Delay is meant for situations where you know the final answer is offside. There are other times where during the situations we often hear phrases like (but not limited to):
Oh my / Ah frig!
With respect to Law 11, these sayings often refer to decisions where the AR has doubt.
Doubt means flag down.
Don’t flag at the beginning, don’t flag at the end
Help on a Possible Handball
We have been teaching ARs that they need to assist with Law 12 situations, especially those involving penalty kicks and/or misconduct. Many examples have been pretty clear as to who is responsible, where one official has a much greater proximity to their teammate. This week we look at one that is more “in between”.
From the main camera angle:
Referee says “I do not have a view”. This is the equivalent of the Referee asking for help.
The AR says “I have handball contact….”
The referee quickly asks “Is it handball though?”
The AR then replies “I didn’t have the greatest view but we’ll have to review that upstairs” (meaningful to the VAR who will take into consideration that the on field match officials didn’t see the incident, but technically they should use the word “check” and not review.)
From the opposite camera angle: Now that we have heard the conversation, let’s analyze why the communication ended up how it did, and see what we can learn from this
If you look at the moment of the possible handball, (:31 of the video) the referee has a better proximity than the AR, and is in the position you’d expect given the play.
You’ll also notice that the ball is not in the video, as the possible offender’s body blocks our view, and that of the referee [See point #2]
The AR would have a view of the possible handball, but might have been surprised by the incident [a very sinking feeling]
In a perfect world, the AR would shout “No No No!!!”, and the Referee would confidently play on. The Referee might even use that information to dispel any penalty kick appeals of the attacking team.
However, the AR has doubt. The words used, and just as importantly the tone used, suggest to the referee that the AR is uncertain.
If the Referee smelled handball, perhaps what the AR added might have been enough
Since the Referee didn’t know, it would require the AR to come on in a very confident and strong manner to convince the referee to whistle for a penalty kick.
The good parts of all this:
The most important part is that the AR did answer the Referee when prompted for help
The AR did not guess when deciding to award a penalty kick or not
The AR was honest about not having a clear view. No professional match official likes the feeling of not having fully seen a major incident
Much like the calling of offside, doubt means keep going, doubt means flag down, and in this case, doubt also means tone of voice down as well
The final decision of "Correctly not given" is the desired result, and we get a free reminder as ARs to "expect the unexpected", and to be ready to assist at a moment's notice.
Winner - MLS Call of the Week #12 - Gjovalin Bori
MLS Call of the Week #13
The two gems from this week come from the opposite coast. In Toronto, Gianni Facchini probably has some doubts as to whether there is a headed ball at the same time as it appears the second attacker is probably even with the ball. Correctly giving any benefit of doubt to the attack he keeps the flag down.
In Los Angeles, Ian Anderson is in good position, so he probably doesn’t have any doubt? , but if he did, he would still keep his flag down as Vela slips in behind the Montreal defense to score a goal. Who did it best in Week 13?