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Referee Panel Report on Black Card Offenses - K Brill 29/09/07
Referee Panel Report on Balck card ofenses - K Brill 29/9/07
Posted by Brillmart 2007-10-18


» Referee Panel Repor...


“Black Card Issued to NZ Fencer at Oceanic Cadets Tournament"
    Vicki Lamb advised the meeting that some discussions had been made with this fencer, but that no sanctions had been put in place. It was agreed that there needed to be more clarity regarding sanctions arising from black cards in general. It was agreed that the refereeing commissioner was to report back on a policy regarding sanctions for black carded fencers Action Kate Brill, Referee Commissioner

    With regards to the specific fencer it was agreed to defer discussions to a later date. It was agreed that a phone conference call should be held on the issue, preferably within the next week. “

Excerpt from FeNZ Minutes 1/06/07

I have been asked to report to the FeNZ Executive Committee on a policy regarding sanctions for black carded fencers (Meeting of 1/6/07).

My understanding is that in the past 5 years 3 fencers have received black cards.  As far as I am aware, none of them has subsequently received another black card.  2 of the 3 fencers have been in the junior or cadet age group.  There may have been some instances of NZ coaches or officials being given black cards for disturbing the order.  I have no data on this.

There is no official reporting procedure to the Refereeing Panel or to FeNZ of black card offences.  I would expect this information to be mentioned in the Team Manager’s report if it involves a team member or official who is representing New Zealand.  However there is no process established for taking further action.

Some points to be considered:

.    Level of the event at which the black card was given (eg school, age group, open, international)

.    Whether the fencer has received black cards previously

.    What the black card was given for

.    Contributing factors if any

.    Any recommendation or comment from the referee giving the black card
.    Possible sanctions

.    Ability of sanctions to be applied (i.e. how do we ensure that they are carried out/respected)

.    Subsequent action required or useful in other areas eg clarification or updating /education/agreements with fencers, team members, parents, referees, coaches, clubs, regions, selectors, tournament organisers….

.    Current FIE rules

The current FIE disciplinary rules apply only to fencers who are competing on an international licence (i.e. not at national level).  A fencer who receives a black card for an offence (except for non-presentation on the piste at the required time) is immediately

. excluded from the event (eg women’s foil individual event, men’s epee individual),

. suspended from the tournament (eg World Championships – cannot fence in any other event at the WC such as team event), and

. suspended from competition for two months of the active season.  “Active season” is defined as 1st January to the World Championships. This means that a fencer getting a black card at the September/October World Champs will not be able to compete from 1 January to 28/29 February. 

Currently FeNZ has no policy or structure for dealing with disciplinary matters related to this type of offence.

Structures that would need to be put in place to effectively handle a sanctions process would be:

. a clear policy or set of rules governing sanctions and their application

. a disciplinary panel or tribunal which could be convened as required

. a clearly defined procedure for ensuring natural justice is respected – those concerned (ie referee/fencer/tournament Technical Directorate/organiser/possibly team captain or manager)  have the opportunity to give their view of the facts.

. potentially an appeal process (preferably inside the sports world, eg the NZ Sports Tribunal).

Given the low number of fencers/others receiving black cards, I do not see this as a major area of concern.  However, any fencer or other person incurring a black card is contravening the rules and bringing themselves, the sport of fencing, their coach, club and country into disrepute.  Some form of sanction beyond the immediate penalty of being excluded from the event or tournament may well discourage the sort of behaviour that leads to a black card. 

I suggest we apply the carrot as well as the stick – given that we would prefer people fencing, not on the sidelines!  There is a small risk of making it attractive for people to gain a sort of notoriety among their peers, friends or clubmates.    One possible approach, given 2/3 of those concerned are not senior fencers, could be that at age group competitions in particular, the organisers/TD remind the fencers (and non-fencers at the competition who may be part of the problem)  at the start of each event that a high standard of self-control and respect for self and others is expected of them.

If FeNZ does apply sanctions in line with current FIE procedure, we would need to ensure that all competition organisers, in NZ and Australia and potentially further abroad, are made aware of any suspension from competition so that this sanction, if applied, can effectively be implemented for the fencer concerned.  For this aspect to be systematically followed through and monitored is essential, if it is to act as a deterrent or as an effective consequence.

In the next week I will be receiving a copy of the Australian Fencing Federation’s rules and procedures for convening their disciplinary tribunal and for ensuring the principles of natural justice are respected in the disciplinary process.

I will forward this to FeNZ members for consideration.

I have spoken with Helen Smith, President of the AFF, about how they handle black card incidents in Australia.  Currently they do not apply further sanctions than that imposed by the referee concerned in the actual incident.  She advised me that the FIE has discussed the matter recently and is keen for National Federations to bring their policy and action in this area into line with the FIE.

I recommend FeNZ first create a procedure for handling disciplinary matters, to include sanctioning fencers who receive black cards.  It would also include how the sanction will be monitored and relevant people advised (such as competition organisers.)

I recommend FeNZ then consider adopting  the FIE rules in relation to black card offences (not including non-presentation on the piste), of immediate  exclusion from the event being competed in,  exclusion from the tournament and suspension for two months of the active season.  FeNZ could retain the option of a suspended sanction, to be enforced if another black card penalty is incurred within a certain period (could be two seasons).

The sanctions would need to be publicised with fencers, coaches, club officials, tournament organisers and technical directorate committees and of course, referees.

Kate Brill
29 September 2007

Further clarification from Kate Brill regarding report:

I intended that FeNZ first consider whether further sanctions are in fact necessary, given the extremely low numbers involved and that there was no repeat offending.  I recommended that FENZ consider what processes and structures would be needed to be able to carry sanctions out effectively and fairly.  It is not a small matter to set up and manage a disciplinary process, even when it seems straightforward.  You only have to ask the Executive members who dealt with the most recent dispute involving an Executive member of FeNZ.

Then I recommended that FeNZ *consider* adopting the FIE rule in relation to sanctions for  fencers receiving black cards.  **It would be counter-productive to jump in and take on applying sanctions immediately without first creating what would be needed to apply them.  FeNZ most probably would land itself in a messy situation, trying to figure it out
on the hop and either being called into question or being clearly unable to do what it said it would, losing any deterrent value (if, indeed there is any).  I see no benefit in this.

Thorough training of referees is at least as important as rushing into making heavy-handed sanctions which we may have difficulty enforcing.  We don't have anything like enough non-fencing referees who are up to date and experienced in managing all the aspects of a bout, especially in a high-pressure situation.  We frequently have to rely on fencers,  inexperienced referees or referees who are out of date, if not as the referee, then sometimes as the judges in a bout, a particularly pressured position.  Worst case is black cards could be given inappropriately or unnecessarily.  We need to be mindful that this is potentially a heavy penalty we are talking about and, especially for younger fencers, we don't need to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.  As I said in my report, there has been no repeat offending in any of the cases I know about over at least the past 5 years.

For this reason, and because of the high amount of time and work that would be involved in even one case, I think we need to proceed slowly and carefully.  There are many FIE rules we don't apply - I don't see a need to rush into this one.

A further point to consider is that the FIE rules apply in the first case to competitors in a small number of competitions  whose organisers liaise directly with the FIE and who are bound by ALL the FIE rules and in which competitors must be entered by their National Federation.  There are no unknowns in policing sanctions at this level.  Sanctions
are applied by the FIE disciplinary committee, an experienced and well resourced body.

While we may be able to control entry into our major national competitions, there are overseas competitions which do not require entry through FeNZ which would make policing any ban difficult, even impossible.

I will follow up with some other sources for more info on how this issue is being approached overseas.

Please forward this comment in its entirety to the previous recipients of your email forwarding my report.

Your experience with 2 black cards given at the U20s last weekend will no doubt have this concern fresh in your mind.  However my view is that it is important to research and consider this issue carefully as it might apply at national level.  There are issues of workability which result in many countries not applying all FIE rules nationally.  I'm open to and interested in any comments or thoughts you have on the subject.

Kind regards

2007-10-24 18:14 - Karl
I have two comments:
1. Perhaps a further point to consider, with respect to those points already raised in FeNZ minutes of 1/06/07. The conduct of the fencer immediately following the receipt of the black card should also be recorded and taken into consideration when deciding the severity of the sanction.

2. Maybe the low rate of black cards is due to poor reporting or to reluctance, on the part of referees; many may not give a black card when the rules clearly require it

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