An inconsistent application of the rulesThe modern game of hockey has players which use professional fouls at critical parts of the game todelay or prevent the other team from advancing the ball in the midfield or playing off the ball in theoffensive circle. The typical foul in the circle which is not called by the referee is bump of the body bythe defender to an offensive player who is in a position to score on a rebound, could receive a pass asecond later, or who is going for a rebound off of the pads, or is going for a deflection off of a long passinto the circle. The umpire more often than not does not understand that the defender has committed aprofessional foul which is designed to prevent the offensive player from playing the ball. Since theplayer has been knocked off balance or has been pushed from the back the player is not able to stop theball, change direction, or react in some other way to score. Umpires are seemingly oblivious to thesetypes of fouls and do not seem to be inclined to see the push in the cynical way in which it wasdelivered by the defender.At critical points in games at the 2012 summer Olympics forwards running at the goal to receivepasses, go for deflections, or to pressure the ball have been pushed from behind. Video referrals haveresulted in rejected claims. This type of injustice detracts from the integrity of the game. The cynicaldefender who has committed an egregious foul is rewarded for their negative play. The offensive playeris denied the opportunity to play the ball.Where as small infractions in midfield such as impeding the progress of a runner with the ball are metwith green and yellow card suspensions.In the ARG vs AUS mens game with the score tied 2-2, ARG passed to a player who was in front of thegoalie. The player pushed a weak shot onto the keepers pads. A defender then ran into the back of theARG forward who was pushed out of the range of the ball. The forward was denied the opportunity toplay the ball by a deliberate foul in front of the goal. A video referral resulted in a bully. Given thestrength of the ARG short corner routine (it is expected to be strong given the drag flicking ability oftheir coach Jorge Lombi) the odds were in favor of a goal if a PC was awarded by the video referralumpire.In the GER vs BEL mens game there was a similar incident where a forward running in to deflect across was pushed from behind by a defender. The call was no PC. The non-call in both casesdetermined the outcome of the game in favor of the team that committed the fouls. The lesson here isthat it pays to push forwards at critical moments in games when you cannot get a stick on the ball andyou are out of position as a defender. The odds are that the referee and the video referral referee willnot penalize the defender who pushes the player who does not have the ball.In the NZ vs NED game at the 10th minute the NZ number 10 pushed the NED 26 into another NZplayer as the NED 26 was running towards a rebound from a shot off of the keeper. The two NZ playersprevented the NED 26 from reaching the ball and in fact knocked the NED 26 over. The call: no PC.Two NED players on the break against the NZ goalie were chased by two NZ players. The right NEDplayer passed to the left NED player who pushed the ball into the goal while he was sliding. The NZplayer behind the NED player slid into the NED player who slid into the goal post. The NED playerwas taken into the training room for treatment. The NZ player had no chance of reaching the ball andthe NZ player committed serious foul by sliding into the NED player from behind as the NEW playerwas sliding into the goal post.45rt
Another tactic used by teams is impeding the player that just passed the ball so that they are delayed orpushed to the ground and cannot receive the return pass. The umpires are focused on the ball and not onthe off the ball play. As a consequence the player who has passed the ball and is impeded from runningfor the return pass is taken out of the play. This gives the defense a significant advantage particularly oncounter attacks.Germanys Wesley put a shoulder hit on Verga from NED after Verga passed the ball and Verga wentoff of the field for treatment.During the China GB game a Chinese player running with the ball was tripped by a GB player who ranbehind her. The Chinese player was injured but the umpire ruled that it was accidental and said play on.This should have been a yellow card and Chinese free hit.During the CHN vs. JPN game JPN players waiting for crosses were bumped with hips by the CHNplayers just prior to attempting to deflect the crosses. There was no call by the referee and the resultwas a 16 yard hit. Referees need to recognize that a player attempting to deflect the ball should not beknocked to the ground by the defender.There is strong evidence that at least one team will have two forwards hold two defenders to make ahole for a midfielder to run through with the ball.One way that teams are slowing the ball down is when there is a foul they are pushing the ball sidewaysjust out of the reach of the person about to take the ball in.Another way is hooking players with their stick or putting their stick under the persons feet causingthem to slip.Both the offenses and the defenses are committing fouls that result in unfair advantages. These are offthe ball fouls and are difficult to detect.From Kevin Parker:the guidance to umpires is to not tolerate professional fouls and to penalize accordingly.deliberate fouls in the "D" should result in a stroke. The wording of the rule (12.4.b) is clear:12.4 A penalty stroke is awarded : • a for an offence by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal • b for an intentional offence in the circle by a defender against an opponent who has possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball • c for defenders persistently crossing over the back-line before permitted during the taking of penalty corners.In top class games the umpires have microphones and can talk to each other. The trail umpiresjob is to watch the off the ball activity and let the lead umpire know what they are seeing. It is thelead umpires exclusive decision what gets called in the "D" irrespective of what the trail tellsthem.In my opinion far too few stokes are called for this type of foul and, consequently, players exploitthat.
Is it time to add additional umpires on the end lines to detect these types of off the ball fouls?