Hi referees! I thought that I'd toss this out there as an example for this forum's purpose. feel free to join in and respond with your opinion!
So I had a situation in a 12U boys game. Purple player carelessly charged an orange defender and before I could blow my whistle, orange retaliated with a reckless charge of his own. I blew the whistle to stop play, but what do I enforce and how do I restart?
Here's what I did.
I blew the whistle, long and hard to tell EVERYONE that I was not happy.
I explained loud enough for the players and coaches to hear that "there was a foul and a retaliation before I could whistle the foul. We are enforcing the foul, DFK for orange. For the retaliation, orange will be cautioned for Unsporting Behavior." Present the yellow to orange.
I was referencing a drop ball if the Ref felt that the two fouls occurred at the same time.
(Slide 28: https://www.fifa.com/mm/document/afdeveloping/refereeing/law_5_the_referee_en_47411.pdf)
If the two fouls were separate the first would be enforced, resulting in an Orange Direct.
I think the important part to remember is that the flow of the game, timing, and intent have a great deal with how the scenario could be called. Ultimately, in that moment, the official must determine what is within the 'spirit of the game'.
You're on the right path, Dan, in recognizing which foul occurred first, and the fact that the retaliation is a cautionable offense. Think about the restart again based on the order of the offenses.
As with any call, I'd suggest it is situational. When I first read this I imagined Orange consciously making an aggressive attack against Purple after the initial foul. Depending on the severity, and especially if warnings had been given already in the game, an Unsporting Behavior / Yellow could be issued to Orange resulting in a Direct Kick for Purple. In this instance the words "retaliated" and "reckless" stood out which is why a caution, although rare in 12U, could be appropriate.
If the Orange foul occurred while the whistle was being raised to the lips they could be considered to have occurred at the same time, restart with a dropped ball.