Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Donald McVicar, The Whistleblower, and Me

Some of you may recall that in December I posted some thoughts on the SFA Whistleblower website. In particular, I pointed out an apparent discrepancy in their explanation of a key penalty incident.

This was picked up by Celtic Quick News, and got me quite a lot of traffic for a few days.

It was suggested to me that I contact the SFA, and ask for an explanation, which I did.

There then followed a short correspondence with Donald McVicar - SFA referee-in-chief.

After this correspondence ceased, Mr McVicar was contacted by Celtic Quick News, but did not respond to their requests for information.

I then passed the story along to one of the more esteemed Scottish sports journalists - an elite club indeed - who initially indicated his interest, but failed to follow it up.

So, for posterity, I am recording my full correspondence with Mr McVicar below.

I shall leave you to form your own judgements on why Mr McVicar ceased to correspond with me.

21/12/05 Div to SFA:

"Dear Sirs

In your most recent update to the Whistleblower website, Stuart Dougal states that a penalty was awarded to Inverness Caledonian Thistle when Stephen McManus committed the offence of 'impeding'.

However, as Mr Dougal should be aware, under Law 12 of the Laws of Football, 'impeding' is punishable by the award of an indirect free kick.

Therefore, as Law 14 of the Laws of Football clearly states a penalty should only be awarded for the ten offences punishable by a direct free kick, Mr Dougal has confirmed that a penalty was incorrectly awarded.

Instead, an indirect free kick was the appropriate punishment.

As the SFA has now confirmed on the Whistleblower website that Mr Dougal saw the offence as 'impeding', but incorrectly punished it by awarding a penalty, can you confirm what steps will be taken to remedy this situation?

Thank you."

22/12/2005 Donald McVicar to Div:

"The offence was of an impeding nature with physical contact which, if inside the penalty area, is considered to be a penalty kick. Your obvious knowledge of the Laws of the Game will remind you that obstruction formerly produced identical punishment but the term impeding the progress has taken its place."

22/12/2005 Div to Donald McVicar:

"Dear Mr McVicar

Thank you for the very swift response to my query.

I was not aware of the existence of the offence described by yourself as being of an 'impeding nature with physical contact' which is punishable by a penalty kick if committed within the penalty area.

Upon receipt of your email I tried to locate a description of this offence within the Laws of the Game.

I also checked the SFA website, but the only reference to impeding was to document the impeding offence as defined in Rule 12.

Finally I checked the latest clarifications to the Laws of the Game, issued by FIFA and available at:

Unfortunately I could not locate any reference to such an offence. Can you tell me if this offence is defined separately, perhaps as an addendum to the Laws of the Game, or is this an offence sanctioned at a local level by the SFA but not enforced internationally?

In either case, I would be grateful if you could refer me to some documentation which describes this offence.

Thanks again for your assistance."

22/12/05 Donald McVicar to Div:

"I take it that your name is not DIV 1970 and since it is the practice that we only correspond with those who identify themselves with a name and address please do so and I shall respond.


(Editors Note: This left me in something of a quandary, since I have not sacrificed my anonymity on my blog. After some consideration I passed the details on to Paul at Celtic Quick News, who agreed to take up the reins. I also emailed Mr McVicar on Christmas Eve, to let him know someone else would contact him, who was happy to identify themselves to him.)

24/12/2005 Div to Donald McVicar:

"Dear Mr McVicar

Thanks again for your swift responses.

Since you do not wish to respond to me, I have passed on our correspondence to someone who complies with your practises.

May I take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas."

26/12/2005 Donald McVicar to Div:

"I do wish to respond to you but you seem keen not to reveal who you are!

Happy Xmas"


As I stated earlier, Mr McVicar seemed to take a vow of silence at this point, and did not respond to Paul's approach.

Which is a shame, since I'd be very interested to find out more about the offence which is of 'impeding nature with physical contact' as described in his email.

That must be an interesting offence to document and interpret.

Or, maybe he tried to bluster his way out of an obvious mistake, and simply dug a deeper hole for himself? I genuinely don't know.

Perhaps Mr McVicar will be happy to provide an explanation of this offence to anyone who wishes to contact him now. It would be somewhat crass of me to publish his email address on the internet for spambots to harvest, but suffice to say it should not be difficult to work out when you know that the SFA domain is:

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