2003 YMCA Mock Trial
Declaration of Kyle Dennis
I, Kyle Dennis, hereby declare as follows:
My true name is Kyle Dennis. I am 42 years old. I was born July 21, 1960. I am a stock broker. I am also a licensed referee and was assigned to this year’s U-18 youth state final. I started playing soccer recreationally in college and have been a referee for the past ten years. This match was my seventh U-18 State championship game as head referee.
My job as a referee is to manage the game effectively using the Laws of the Game in order to prevent either team from being disadvantaged by infringement of those rules. I know the Laws of the Game. My role is not to interfere with the speed, style or manner of play as I am there primarily for the protection of the players’ safety. As long as issues of safety do not arise, I try not to use my whistle too often to settle disputes. We are taught that referees should be invisible and should never influence the outcome of the game by blowing the whistle. It is the players’ game, not ours.
In my experience, most confrontations between players are settled through good competition on the field when the referee just lets the players play. I only make the calls they force me to make, and I think most teams respect me for that. I know that I get asked to referee at this level because of my ability to manage aggressive, intense play. I have just been asked by the U.S. Referee Association to start refereeing professional games for the A-League next season. That invitation came out of my successful experiences in refereeing at the top youth levels, like this game.
I watched the battle between Chavez and Garrison all game. I had been warned about the pair by the state association prior to the match and knew that the importance of this particular contest might send tempers flaring from the first whistle. I was right, as Garrison immediately came out and hammered Chavez from behind. I called the foul but did not caution Garrison and warned them both that I was watching them. I was hoping they would play their frustrations out. For the most part, they both did that until about the 30th minute. That’s when Garrison finally crossed the line. Chavez was checking back to receive a ball and Garrison kicked his legs out from under him just as the ball arrived. It was a cheap shot so I gave him a yellow card and warned both players again.
Chavez complained about every call, and s/he kept making ticky-tack fouls (shirt-pulling, holding and grabbing) that I could no longer ignore. I gave him/her about six warnings in the first 40 minutes of the game. Just before halftime s/he pulled a player’s jersey right in front of me, so I yellow-carded him/her in the 43rd minute for persistent infringement of the rules. I could have as easily carded him for dissent for his/her constant complaining. The yellow card seemed to pacify Garrison who was obviously frustrated about his/her own performance against Chavez. As the players walked off the field at halftime, I warned both of them that they were walking a very tight line with me and that I wouldn’t tolerate any further misconduct in the second half.
After halftime Garrison came out and tackled Chavez on a pretty hard play. S/he did manage to get the ball too, so I did not show him a card, but the tackle was aggressive. I looked at him/her sternly to show him/her I was watching closely. But I did not say anything. Other than that, the rest of the half was played pretty cleanly. There were hard tackles on both sides of the ball, but nothing you would not expect from that level of competition. Chavez was still talking to me on every play, but I chose to ignore him/her and let them play the game.
I could not ignore Garrison’s foul against Chavez in the 81st minute. I was running even with the play in midfield where Jordan James passed the ball to Chavez. After Chavez beat Garrison and was headed to goal, I assumed my position trailing the play to the left side of the field not more than 15 yards from the action. I was standing directly behind Kelly Quoc when the foul occurred. I did not have a clear view of the whole foul, but was in the appropriate position to make the call and issue a card. I, too, heard the pop in Chavez’s knee and immediately whistled the play dead. I did not see Garrison kick Chavez. The other players (Quoc and James) momentarily obscured my line of sight. It could have happened in the short period of time my line of sight was obscured, but I did not.
I moved in very quickly and grabbed Garrison, who was standing over Chavez. Quoc was also holding Garrison, who was out of control, yelling and jumping around.
I showed Garrison the red card and sent him/her off the field but s/he would not leave. S/he continued to yell at Chavez to get up and play. Finally, Garrison’s assistant coach and Quoc managed to get him/her to the sideline.
It took a good 15 minutes for the medics to load Chavez in the aid car and leave the field. I awarded a free kick to FC Red Dog and play resumed. Both teams seemed to lose their focus and energy after the foul. But I remember secretly hoping that someone would score so we would not have to go into overtime or a shootout. FC Ignition did score on a corner kick just before regulation time expired and the game was over. Despite that one foul, the game was a good game, and both teams deserved to win.
I have been criticized by the state association for not red carding Garrison earlier in the match, but feel that I made the right decisions in the overall management of the game. I wanted to let both teams decide this game without unnecessary interference from me. I knew it would be a hard, physical match. Other referees think that issuing a yellow card early in a game tends to force physical players to settle down and creates a “tone” for the match. I believe the players, and not the referees, should set the tone for the match. I do not feel that Garrison was out of control at any other point in the game, aside from his illegal tackle against Chavez in the 81st minute and his antics after the foul. I made the correct decisions in game management. I do not believe that any action that I might have taken in carding Garrison earlier in the game would have prevented this type of foul from occurring. A slide tackle cannot be committed without intent. Garrison chose to intentionally slide tackle late and from behind. That is beyond question. But, I cannot say Garrison intended to attack Chavez or that the tackle was planned before the game started. Clearly, it was wrong and the consequences for Chavez were disastrous. As referees we are trying very hard to clean up the game. But it is difficult when young players watch professionals make “professional fouls” on TV, their coaches teach dirty little tricks, and TV commentators make light of hard fouls during their broadcasts.
I have examined the field diagram created by the prosecutor and I agree with his/her positioning of players and referees, including me. I do not know where Andy Jacobs, Sidney Lee and Jessie St. Laurent were sitting or standing.
I HEREBY DECLARE UNDER PENALTIES OF PERJURY UNDER THE LAWS OF WASHINGTON THAT THE FOREGOING IS TRUE AND CORRECT.
Dated this 20th day of June, 2002.
/s/ Kyle Dennis