[Issued by SAL Working Group, Ronnie Robinson, Bob Coates, Mark Freedman, Ian Kerr, 3 July 2017]
In March 2017, the IFAB gave approval to National Associations to use Temporary Dismissals either for all cautions or for selected cautions. Subsequently the Football Association (‘FA’) agreed that the Pilot would be for dissent only and would be confined to clubs at Step 7 and below. 130 leagues registered an interest and the Southern Amateur League (‘SAL’) was selected. The Pilot is for all divisions in the League, not specific divisions, and will apply to SAL Cup ties but not County Cups or inter-league competitions. The objective of the Pilot is to learn from a controlled environment and evaluate whether Sin Bins successfully reduce the level of dissent. Participating leagues have the opportunity to provide feedback to FA Committees which in turn will be fed back to IFAB. A final decision on full introduction will be made in 12 months. It is also essential to point out that the Pilot does not require referees to adopt a different interpretation of dissent – otherwise it might be impossible to evaluate its effectiveness – it is the sanction for dissent that is changing, not how referees determine the offence.
To put the Pilot into the context of the SAL and to give an indication of how prevalent dissent may be in the League next season – which also gives an indication of how often individual referees are likely to be faced with a ‘Sin Bin situation’ – it is worth noting that 326 dissent cautions were issued last season covering some 1,800 league and cup matches. This equates to one dissent caution every 5½ games. This gives us a baseline to review the Pilot in the coming season.
Evaluating the Pilot gives the SAL a unique opportunity to influence the outcome. The framework has been set and may not be altered. Your comments will be analysed throughout the season and will contribute to the eventual submission of the League. The FA is making changes to the Whole Game System to enable Sin Bin cautions to be recorded; the League will be making changes to the Referee Report Card.
Dealing with dissent in the Pilot
It may be helpful if we think of the Pilot as changing only the way dissent is dealt with once the offence has been committed. The Pilot only applies to players on the field of play and not to substitutes or coaching staff. The referee’s interpretation as dissent of words, gestures or behaviour used by players has not changed. Neither is there any change to the way referees judge whether players have used offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures, or judge whether players are guilty of unsporting behaviour, eg, by showing a lack of respect for the game. So what changes in the Pilot is that -
All cautions for dissent on the field of play must be dealt with by the Sin Bin process
Referees signal by issuing a yellow card in the normal way and pointing with both hands to the touchline where the player must go (not a defined Sin Bin area)
In the Sin Bin (First Offence
The period in the Sin Bin is 10 minutes playing time for all matches. The referee has the final decision on when the player can return to play, and this does not need to be in a stoppage in play
The 10 minutes is not a measure of elapsed time but relates to the time the ball is in play: in other words, referees should stop the watch during substitutions, treatment of injuries and other stoppages. If the 10 minute period has not expired at the end of the first half it continues to the second half (or extra-time); but if it has not expired at the end of extra-time and there are kicks from the penalty mark the player can participate
A player in the Sin Bin cannot be substituted until the period has expired
These instructions to referees reflect the underlying intention of the IFAB in dealing with dissent by denying the offender’s team the services of the offending player for 10 minutes immediately the offence has been committed. And if the same player commits a further dissent offence after returning to the field of play, a further 10 minute period is immediately enforced, making up to 20 minutes the period of play when a team does not have all its players. The immediate nature of the sanction is also recognised in the decision of IFAB to allow substitutes to replace players who are sent-off only for dissent on the field of play offences. However, other events during the match will have an impact on IFAB’s intention of dealing with dissent via the Sin Bin, for example, if a player in the Sin Bin commits another yellow card offence whilst there, the player is sent-off – a similar process to the current LOAF. However, a key difference with the current LOAF is that a player who has been in the Sin Bin and is back on the field of play is not sent-off for receiving two cautions where the second caution is for a non-dissent offence. Another departure from the LOAF – this time changing the Law that does not allow sent-off players to be replaced by a substitute – relates to a player who has already been in the Sin Bin and then commits a further dissent on the field of play offence. This player is not sent-off immediately but first needs to serve a second period in the Sin Bin. Once the second Sin Bin period has expired, this player may then be substituted. There will also be circumstances where a player receives three yellow cards in a match: a first for dissent, a second for a non-dissent offence (eg, a reckless challenge), and third for dissent. This player is sent-off immediately. How to deal with these repeat offences is set out below. A temporary dismissed player who - i. Commits another yellow card offence or red card offence during the Sin Bin period cannot take any further part in the game and cannot be substituted ii. Commits a non-dissent caution at any time on the field of play in addition to the Sin Bin period will continue to play iii. Commits a second dissent on the field of play caution (and no other offences) will receive a second period in the Sin Bin. At the end of that period the player can take no further part in the game, but can be substituted iv. Commits a second dissent action and has already had a non-dissent caution will take no further part in the game and cannot be substituted All other Laws of the Game remain unaffected (eg, non-dissent yellow cards).
Please note that although it has been agreed that the £10 administration fee for temporary dismissals will be waived the standard disciplinary points will be logged against both the club and player records.