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Crack down on Persistent Infringement
by Randy Vogt, February 12th, 2014 3:58PM
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TAGS:  referees, youth boys, youth girls


By Randy Vogt

There are seven reasons for cautioning a player. I don't believe that I cautioned anybody for one of the reasons -- persistent infringement -- during my first three years of refereeing.

White forward No. 10 is the best player on that team and the main goalscorer. Seemingly every time that she receives the ball, she is fouled by blue defender No. 5. Verbally warn that defender that you recognize the pattern and the fouling needs to stop immediately. The captain might be able to help you control her teammate as well. If No. 5 continues fouling No. 10, she gets cautioned for persistent infringement.

Cautioning is also valid if different players take turns fouling white forward No. 10. If you see this pattern developing, you can verbally warn, then caution the next player who fouls No. 10. Although technically, that player would be cautioned for unsporting behavior.

The caution is a statement that any further misconduct will result in a player’s removal from the field. Cautioning the player does not in any way reset the foul counter and fouls that would have been whistled if not for an advantage situation are included in the count for persistent infringement.

Recently on a hot day, green had more substitutes than white in a boys under-14 game. White No. 4, a left midfielder, was becoming tired and fouled three times in a span of five minutes during the second half. The caution for persistent infringement at that point worked wonders as he did not commit another foul in the game. His fear of fouling again and his fatigue opened up space for the green team to attack.

It’s important that all players are protected by the referee from being constantly fouled so that all are able to play to the best of their abilities.

Nowadays, I am cautioning more and more players for persistent infringement. Has the game changed so much in nearly four decades where I have gone from not cautioning any players for persistent infringement during the 1970s to more and more players today? No, the game has not changed much if at all in this regard but my ability to see things as a referee has broadened with experience.

Rare will be the new official who can spot persistent infringement. There are very few incidents of persistent infringement in young children’s games but more as the players become teenagers. That’s one of the reasons why it’s important that new officials start out refereeing young kids’ games and serve as an assistant referee for experienced refs doing teenager and senior games. Learn from those refs who could help explain when they see persistent infringement.

It's vital that the officials spot persistent infringement before the players and coaches. If they are saying, “Their No. 4 keeps fouling,” or “Our No. 10 keeps getting fouled,” the ref is then in the bad spot of when the player is cautioned, appearing as if he or she was influenced by the opposing players and coaches. It’s so much more productive to at least have a brief word with a player early or blowing the whistle hard on his or her second foul.

I do like the mechanics how some refs have been cautioning players for persistent infringement: 1-point to place of first foul, 2-point to place of second foul, 3-got you now or simply put 1, 2 and 3 fingers on their hand. Although these techniques are not an official signal, no further explanation needs to be given as for the reason for the caution.

(Randy Vogt has officiated over 8,000 games during the past three decades, from professional matches in front of thousands to 6-year-olds being cheered on by very enthusiastic parents. In his book, "Preventive Officiating," he shares his wisdom gleaned from thousands of games and hundreds of clinics to help referees not only survive but thrive on the soccer field. You can visit the book’s website at

  1. R2 Dad
    commented on: February 13, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
    Thanks for the timely reminder, as tournament and spring leagues start up shortly. I think the instances where PI are easiest to spot involve the goalkeepers, where youth players are usually not sly enough to mask it. The most difficult involve set pieces around the penalty area, where players rotate infringement, making it hard to track within the scrum.
  1. Lance Eber
    commented on: February 13, 2014 at 11:13 a.m.
    Oh my gosh. Yes yes yes yes!!! A great article topic. I've been licensed for 30 years and over the past five plus years, I have more and more issued cautions for this violation. The deterioration of this violation not being penalized goes right along with our fellow yellow shirt people allowing defending teams to stand right in front of the ball on free kicks delaying the restart of play. No caution being issued. As the enforcement of one law wanes (delaying the restart of play, e.g.), then others begin to wane as well. Now that's probably a serious case of slippery slope, but as a long time and then as a coach that sees it way too often, I'm just stating what I've seen. Persistent infringement is an annoying aspect of the game, but it can be dealt with really easily. Issue the card. It just takes the effort. Thanks Randy!

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