As you know, I don’t like pointless protocols, needless officiousness or irrational rules. My personal ‘favourite’ rules are those governing players around the centreline and what does and does not constitute interference. There are several rules, and more casebook interpretations, that explain in great detail how players can interfere with their opponent and yet not break the rules. It includes such stretches of logic as defining ‘opponent’s play’ as ‘opponent’s act of playing the ball’, allowing all kinds of interference in players movement. But the one I found last weekend was a real brain teaser.
What you can see in the clip is the spiker landing on the centreline and then some kind of altercation between him and blocker. What you can’t see, but is clearly seen in the challenge video, is the blocker touching the player on the ground, trying to topple him over onto his own side of the net. Watching on TV, I saw a challenge called and the spiking team serve next, and figured that the correct decision had been reached. It was after all a clear case of interference.
What I learnt a few days later was that the correct decision had in fact been reached, but the logic behind the rules was so convoluted as to make my head explode. It turns out that the action of the blocker was not a fault. According to the rules, a player can only officially interfere with an opponent if he is on the opponent’s side of the net. Therefore, no fault had been committed.
However, while deliberately interfering with an opponent is somehow not interference, it is considered unfair and rude conduct and the player in question received a red card. Hence the spiker’s team serving the next ball.
I have to give credit to the referee for knowing and making sense of that sequence of ridiculousness. I cannot however give credit to the framers of the rules who allow such nonsense to be possible.
‘A player may not interfere with, or impede in any way, an opponent from participating normally or moving freely on his own court.’
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