As every year, FINA Technical Water Polo Committee (TWPC) has given to referees its observations about the rules interpretations. Below you can find the whole document, which doesn’t mention the new rules approved last December 10th in Hangzhou, but which focuses mainly on the interpretation of contacts in the water. Here you can find the main points of TWPC observations.
PHISICALITY ON CENTER POSITION. TWPC reiterates that all kind of pushing, grabbing, impeding with arms or body by defender should not be tolerated. An exclusion – even if the center is without ball – should be called in the first instance when foul has occurred and not after 10-15 seconds of brutal fighting. In this regard, the first period of the game the referee sets the tone for the rest of the game.
IMPEDING. To hold an opponent not in possession of the ball, to prevent free movement is impeding and has to be punished with an exclusion. Impeding should be called on perimeter, contra attack situations and also when the centerforward is swimming to take position in front of the goal.
EXCLUSION/ORDINARY FOUL. There is no automatic exclusion when the ball arrives to the center position: exclusion is compensation for advantage taken away illegally and there is no advantage if a) the center has his back towards the goal and his position too far from the goal (approx. 4m); b) the center has his back towards the goal and outside of the goal posts; c) when other defenders are around. In these situations – TWPC says – ordinary foul can be called to maintain possession.
CONTRAFOULS. Contrafoul is a call that breaks the natural flow of the game and it is hardly understandable by the public, so referee should keep the number of contrafouls at the minimal level, also because contrafoul is often the reaction of the attacker to continuous abuse by a defender. Calling the first violation and not the reaction will eliminate the big number of contrafouls. If the attacker gained the position by an illegal move, the referee should wait until he receives the ball and then should call the contrafoul, because only then the advantage appears. Otherwise, the controfoul by the centerforward should be called when he initiates contact by impeding the defender resulting in advantage.
PROTESTS. TWPC reminds referees to be severe with coach and players on the bench protesting to his decisions. The referee can give only one warning, but after that he must quickly use the yellow or red card to control these situations.
DECORUM OF THE GAME. In order to protect the image of waterpolo, it’s absolutely essential for all parties involved, including referees, to keep decorum and entourage of the game at the highest possible level. So the general protocol of the game should be followed precisely and the deck area around the field of play should be kept clean and neat.
Generally speaking, we can say that – as it happened in the past – the TWPC observations don’t reduce the discretion of the referee, who is instead asked a great sensitivity and a deep knowledge of waterpolo, especially in the whistling about the defender-centerforward contacts. In this regard, the video rulebook announced during the last FINA World Conference in Budapest could be a good help for referees with little experience or coming from countries with a little tradition in waterpolo.