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What to do about teammates punch up – Reading Today Online

Referee Picture: Pixabay

Television watchers of the Sheffield United game against Wolves may remember that halfway through the game, Jack Robinson and Vinicius Souza started swapping punches as they walked off the pitch at the half time interval.

What was different from the usual players bust up was that both players were of the same team. Robinson it appears had blamed Souza for letting the ball go out of play just before the end of the half.

Their team captain, Anel Ahmedhodzic, stepped in quickly with other players and separated the teammates. He then spoke to referee Darren Bond who has been keeping an eye on the players clash, and tried to convince him that it was nothing serious.

After consultation with his VAR, the referee decided not to take any action against the players.

The most famous instance of players fighting with their own teammates in the Premier League, happened in 2005 when Newcastle with 10 minutes to go, were three nil down against Aston Villa.

Teammates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer starting landing punches on each other whilst playing continued, after Bowyer accused Dyer of not passing the ball to him when he was in a better goalscoring position.

It turned into a real punch up and teammates had to step in after play stopped, to separate the warring players. The referee immediately took out the red card and sent both players off.

The interesting point from a refereeing point of view is that if the fisticuffs had been about one player of each team being involved, there would be no query about the referees sending the players off, but should they take the same action if the players are teammates.

In fact the Laws of the Game cover this in some detail. Amongst sending off offences, it lists Violent Conduct.

It goes on to describe this as using or attempting to use excessive force against an opponent when not challenging for the ball or against a teammate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made,

In addition it says that if a player when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm is guilty of violent conduct – unless the force was negligible.

So it would seem that both referees got it right.

By Dick Sawdon Smith

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