Soccer won’t stand
for foul language
College soccer players must clean up their verbal act this fall or suffer the consequences.
The NCAA Men's and Women's Soccer Rules Committee adopted a zero tolerance foul language policy at its annual meeting that is effective for the 2003 playing season.
The new rule addresses what has become a growing concern in the sport over the last several years. Any player who uses profane, offensive, insulting, vulgar or abusive language or gestures will receive a red card and will be ejected from the game. As a result, the team will play short for the player who is ejected.
The new policy was introduced in an attempt to restore integrity to the game, encourage respect for all fans, players, coaches and officials, and make soccer games a more family-friendly environment. The tougher restrictions also come at a time when leaders in college athletics are taking steps to discourage inappropriate behavior by fans, student-athletes and coaches.
In previous seasons, foul or abusive language was considered a cautionable offense as well as an ejectionable offense with the referee having to make a judgment call as to whether the offense was serious enough to warrant a red card. There is no gray area now.
The new policy makes the referee's task of what to do in language-abuse situations less confusing. If the referee hears foul or abusive language, it requires just one action and there is no doubt what the referee has to do.
The committee also ruled that if a goalkeeper throws the ball at an opponent, he or she shall be cautioned and the referee will award the opposing team an indirect free kick from the point of the infraction (that is, the place of contact where the ball hits the opponent).
The use of multicolored goal nets was approved and artificial noisemakers, air horns and electronic amplifiers were banned.
The committee also addressed the issue of substitution, another long-standing point of contention in the soccer community.
In response to the membership and in an effort to improve the flow of the game, lessen game times and promote student-athlete safety, the committee voted to allow no reentry in any period of the game.
Appealing to the "purist" aspect of soccer, committee members believe this change will align the college game more with the world game while still allowing large numbers of participants and allowing coaches the freedom to do their job.
"It goes against the culture of this country, but I am not opposed to it. We've been a renegade country in terms of changing the rules in the past," said Hawaii Rainbow Wahine soccer coach Pinsoom Tenzing.
"The change is limiting in that we have to look at players who can perform for 90 minutes. If you take a player out for the last 10 minutes of the first half, when do you put that player back in? What if that player gets a minor injury and has to come out for a few minutes in the next period. That's it for that player in that period.
"We'll have to develop backups. It's always difficult to explain to a player why she is not playing and this will make it even more difficult."
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Just for Kicks runs every other Sunday in the Star-Bulletin.
Al Chase can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org