Sports Law • Risk Management

September 6, 2010: Pulling An Early Yellow Card

While watching a college soccer match earlier today I was reminded of the importance of having a strong head official. I watched one team play dirty because they were clearly outmatched by the technical footwork of their opponents. The head referee set the tone of intolerance against dirty playing early in the game by giving out a yellow card within the first several minutes of play. Furthermore, he was consistent in his calls throughout the match.

The referee was proactive in making calls to keep the game moving and to maximize fair play. Consequently, he prevented some injuries and fights from occurring. It is an official’s responsibility to enforce the rules of the sport to protect the players and to ensure a fair match, but too often an official will let a game get away from him or her by not setting the tone early in a game.