Don’t Retaliate


A funny incident happened to my daughter this year during her high school season that illustrates retaliation perfectly. My daughter entered a game early in the second half and before her teammate had a chance to restart the game with a throw-in, my daughter:

  • Received a yellow card,
  • Was almost shown a red card, and
  • Found herself back on the bench.

The incident unfolded as follows:

  1. As she entered the game and positioned herself for the throw-in, an opponent pinched her on her hip.
  2. Not one to take kindly to this sort of action, my daughter reciprocated with an elbow to the pincher’s mid-section.
  3. Seeing only the elbow, the referee showed my daughter a yellow card and pointed to the bench (in our high school league, all yellow card recipients require to be substituted).
  4. As she neared the bench, her coach asked her why she did what she did. She answered by showing him the pinch mark and made sure that everyone in the stands knew that she had been pinched.
  5. Upon seeing the mark, the coach had her return to the field to show the referee the evidence.
  6. As she neared him, the referee asked, “If she would like a red card as well?”
  7. Without responding, my daughter returned to the bench to accept her punishment. Fortunately, she went back in after the next dead ball. There were no further retributions or flare-ups.

I feel the referee was perfectly justified in giving my daughter the yellow card because a referee can only call and punish actions or infractions that he/she sees. Even though he probably guessed something had happened to my daughter to cause her to react like she did, he should not have shown the other girl a yellow card since he did not see the pinch occur. All he could do was keep a closer eye on the pincher and be quick to call a foul if he witnessed anything.

I gave my daughter the following advice should she be involved in another similar incident in the future:

  • Raise your voice to get the referee’s attention. Something like, “Ouch! You can’t pinch me like that!” would have done the trick.
  • Display the evidence to the player and make sure the referee sees it as well. If possible, go to the referee and show him/her the evidence up close.
  • Be polite when showing the referee any evidence. If he/she does not want to see it, that’s fine. The purpose, which was to let the referee know that a particular player caused you pain, was achieved.
  • Don’t retaliate. Opponents, especially older ones, play mind games. Their intention is to get the opponent off his/her game. This type of gamesmanship is part of soccer as well as most other sports. It is something that players need to understand and expect.

Retaliation is never the answer. While it is not fair, the referee will always see the retaliator’s reaction and not the perpetrator’s action. React and you will almost certainly be carded and possibly end up back on the bench without ever playing a minute of a game.

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