Waikato Unicol AFC had a player assaulted last season who was carded for exercising their legal right to self defense (i.e. was being restrained and strangled and needed to break the grip). We asked WaiBOP to overrule the fine and card, however they declined our request. So there are a few points for players to note.
» Official response from WaiBOP CEO on how to avoid being strangled (or assaulted while restrained) without being penalised for exerting a legal right to self defense when unable to walk away:
"The specific answer to your question is no- there is no Waibop approved way for a player to extricate his or herself from the situation you describe."
» WaiBOP referred to the fact that they require a Safety and Security Officer to be supplied by the home team, however players should be aware:
a) WaiBOP had no roles and responsibilities for the Safety and Security Officer
b) WaiBOP had no training for volunteers in this role to keep themselves safe
Hopefully, this is addressed before the 2019 season starts as Clubs cannot meet this requirement without roles and responsibilities and training for these volunteer roles.
» be careful out there - try to stay away from aggressive players & do not contribute to escalating their behaviour
» talk to the referee if players are escalating their aggression (in theory they should control the game and prevent assaults)
» your legal rights and safety appear to be outweighed by FIFA rules - referees and WaiBOP will card you at their discretion so either:
(a) allow yourself to be assaulted, or
(b) be prepared to be carded & fined if you have to strike the aggressor in order to stop the assault
» if not being physically held in place during the assault, players need to walk away
» report any assaults to the police & committee - if you are on the sideline get photos of the assailant to help ID them