USA Field Hockey NEWS Behind the Whistle: ...

Behind the Whistle: Video Review at a Crucial Moment

Nov. 19, 2020, 4:30 p.m. (ET)

Each week, USA Field Hockey's Umpiring Department will provide video clips for educational purposes on recent plays/calls.


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA Rule 9.13: Players must not tackle unless in a position to play the ball without body contact. 


FIH/USA Field Hockey/NCAA Rule 12.4: A penalty stroke is awarded:

A. for an offense by a defender in the circle which prevents the probable scoring of a goal.

B. for an intentional offense in the circle by a defender against an opponent who has possession of the ball or an opportunity to play the ball.


Video Referral Guidelines: Umpire Referral: 1. The match umpires may refer decisions to the video umpire when they are not convinced that they have taken, or are able to take, the correct decision relating to the awarding or disallowing of goals; or the award/non-award of penalty stroke decisions.


Application: The umpire judged that the goalkeeper slid into the attacker and tripped her with the arm as the goalkeeper attempted to play the ball, preventing the attacker from playing the ball and possibly preventing a goal. The umpire immediately used the available Umpire Referral to allow for other angles to confirm or overturn the decision. Correct Procedure…Note: Congratulations to the umpire for taking it upon herself to send this decision to video review in such a critical situation. This situation happened in sudden victory overtime.


Guidance: Even though a goalkeeper is allowed to use their equipment to play the ball, they must not conduct themselves in a manner which is dangerous to other players by taking advantage of the protective equipment they wear. Goalkeepers are also responsible for their momentum and the danger involved when sliding into or toward another player. These are judgement decisions and can always be debated depending on the angle and perspective of the person watching. Just as in all sports and according to the video referral guidance, unless there is a “clear reason” to overturn the umpire’s decision, the call on the field must stand. In this case, there was no conclusive evidence of the video available which would clearly overturn the decision. 


Further Guidance: There has been a lot of social media commentary, opinion and conjecture about this decision. Everyone is entitled to their opinion; everyone is entitled to their thoughts and while there may never be an agreement on the correct call, perhaps all learn something from this. The umpire can only whistle what he/she sees and from the angle the umpire saw this, in her mind it was a penalty stroke. She also does the right thing in immediately sending the decision to video review to be as sure as possible that penalty stroke call was the correct one. The camera angles available to the video umpire were not the same angles as the television coverage which would certainly lead to many opinions on the final decision. Thus, any video review system is not perfect, but it is far better for the game when it is available to help keep the match fair to both teams.


Video clips and photos are being utilized for educational purposes only and not meant to critique individual players, coaches or officials.